By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

The snow has melted and the greenery is popping up all around Houston County, but there’s something else mixed in with the spring foliage: garbage. 

It’s typical to see trash in ditches after a long winter, and volunteer groups are seen in April and May generously cleaning up roadways. However, on County Road 32 just east of Caledonia, the situation is a lot more serious.

The Houston County Sheriff’s Office has taken a complaint of illegal dumping on that road this year and seven complaints last year, not to mention a few more from previous years. 

The residents are done seeing full garbage bags, garbage bags full of baby diapers, 45 tires, multiple deer carcasses, oil cans and recently, a carcass of a dead lamb in the ditches and down a hill that hovers above a trout stream. 

One resident (who preferred to remain anonymous) told the Argus it’s not just their property that ends up as a dumping ground. It also happens by the gun range or in the quarry. 

Last year, residents worked to clean up the mess with the help of Mayville Township and Houston County, who allowed residents to deposit the garbage at the proper dump site. Now, it’s happening again. 

“Repeatedly this year. We’ve put up signs, ‘No Trepassing.’ Put six up and there’s one left,” the resident said. “Cameras are put up. It’s probably happening to other people too ... We’re going to stay on it. Someone is going to be the one to get caught.”

Houston County Sheriff Mark Inglett said the complaints seemed to have increase over the last year.

“There’s really no excuse for dumping trash in the ditch,” he said.

Inglett added most Houston County cities have designated drop off sites for garbage and recycling, and most are open at least one day of the week and on the weekends. 

Inglett added his office worked with property owners four years ago and put signs up, as it’s been an ongoing issue for a long time. 

“We’re always looking for that type of conduct on patrol,” he said. 

It’s difficult to catch them in the act, though, as headlights at night can alert them. If anyone sees this type of behavior, Inglett said it should be reported with as much identifying information as possible, such as vehicle description and license plate numbers. 

Not only is it disheartening to see the garbage dumped on the roadside, but it’s also a potential danger to wildlife and waterways.

“I think it poses a lot of potential harm to our wildlife. When you dump all kinds of things there, chemicals, motor oil ... we have a proper place to dispose of it,” he said. “Anytime you’ve got garbage, chemicals like that leaching into the ground, it affects the waterway.”

DNR Conservation Officer Tyler Ramaker said dumping deer carcasses on road ditches, on private property without permission or public property is considered littering. Furthermore, conservation officers are able to investigate and issue citations for the offense. Deer carcasses can be disposed of on private land with the permission of the landowner.

He also talked about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a disease that has increased in Houston County recently. 

"Much of our area is within the CWD Management Zone, where carcass transportation laws are in effect to help reduce the spread of CWD. To assist hunters, dumpsters are available for the disposal of deer carcasses during the hunting season," he said.

A list of dumpster locations and times in which they are in operation can be found on the DNR Website. Updated information will be posted on the website prior to the 2021 deer hunting season.

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