The Carcass Chronicles
Every year, more than 50,000 cars hit deer in Michigan. When the deer is killed, some of the carcasses are claimed by the drivers and others are donated or landfilled. But what happens to the ones that are left to decompose?
From February through May 2021, I documented the decomposition of a road-killed deer through trail cams and an audio journal.
Editors note: We recommend listening to “The Carcass Chronicles” before enjoying the videos below.
I. The Recycling Crew
I placed the carcass in an open field at the back of my property. The primary scavengers are shown in the order they visited the deer. It was an important food source for all these scavengers.
II. New Sheriff
On March 16, a bobcat arrived. It claimed the carcass and had the most visible impact on this deer’s decomposition.
III. The Bobcat Reigns
The bobcat claimed the carcass by covering it with snow and vegetation and driving off would-be competitors for the food.
IV. The Carcass Disappears
Eight days after the bobcat arrived, the carcass disappeared. Or so it seemed.
V. The Bear
On May 12, a bear arrived. The bear was present for hours over the course of several visits, but only a few short clips are included here. That’s because they mostly show the bear eating with its back to the camera.
A note on the videos: The dates on some clips are out of order. That’s because I used the video with the best view of the animal. Also, some of the dates are wrong. Rookie error, I didn’t realize it was necessary to reset the time on one of the cameras when the batteries were replaced.