Deer on Brinkman Road on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Deer on Brinkman Road on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Still seeing expired deer along Old Mission Peninsula roads? That’s because the issue of what to do with roadkill remains unresolved, as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Grand Traverse County Road Commission (GTCRC) continue to be at odds over how to handle it.

As noted in this story posted on the Gazette last month, the DNR has suggested that if the GTCRC is picking up roadkill and dumping it on state land, that’s illegal. Meanwhile, the GTCRC says that means they can no longer pick up dead deer and remove them.

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The GTCRC issued a couple of press releases recently to help clarify their stance.

On May 25, they noted that while they “continue to contest the confusing and conflicting positions taken by EGLE (Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) as it relates to roadkill removal and disposal,” they have been advised by legal counsel to leave roadkill where it falls, if possible.

However, if the roadkill poses a hazard to public travel or hinders GTCRC’s operational activities:

  • The roadkill carcass will be moved outside of the traveled part of the highway or area of GTCRC operational activity at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible;
  • The roadkill carcass will not be placed near sources of water (creek, river, lake, wetland, or ditch);
  • If there is insufficient room to accommodate a carcass between the traveled part of a highway and a ditch, the carcass should be moved to a suitable elevation beyond the backslope of the ditch, but still within the right-of-way.

“In cases where the hazard to public travel cannot be eliminated through adherence to these rules, the Road Commission retains the ability to close the roadway to travel until the hazard no longer exists,” they note.

However, in a press release issued today, the GTCRC further clarified why they have stopped removing roadkill in the road right-of-way. While they believe the collection of roadkill is a necessary service and should be maintained, they’ve received legal advice about the issue from the Michigan County Road Commission Self-Insurance Pool (MCRCSIP), the risk management pool that covers liability for the Road Commission.

Specifically, “GTCRC employees could face potential criminal charges if they continue to collect roadkill,” they note. “This means a criminal misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of not less than $50 or more than $500 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days as well as civil penalties of $10,000-$25,000 per violation for each day the violation occurs.”

They add, “The GTCRC cannot order its employees to take any action that could subject them to criminal and civil liability that the DNR and EGLE have threatened us with. It is for this reason only that the GTCRC Board of Commissioners made the difficult decision to stop collection of roadkill. We want to be very clear that the GTCRC remains ready and willing to collect roadkill once the DNR and EGLE assure us that our employees will not be threatened or charged with criminal wrongdoing and/or civil fines.

They encourage Grand Traverse County residents to contact the DNR, EGLE, their state representative or senator and ask them to remedy this situation.

  • The DNR Wildlife Division can be reached at (517) 284-9453 or via email at [email protected].
  • The EGLE Office of Public Information can be reached at (800) 662-9278 or via email at [email protected].
  • Brad Kluczynski, GTCRC Manager, can be reached at (231) 922-4848, ext 215, or via email at [email protected].

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan


  1. Heaven forbid we try to work together as one government to solve an issue. EGLE and the DNR are both power-hungry bureaucrats.

  2. Without Common Sense and cooperation, we humans will be crushed under the weight of beaurocuracy, just as the dead animals were crushed….the same laws of nature apply to all species.
    “Same as it ever was”.


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