This project began in 2010, as an adjunct to my project “Hit and Run.” As I was photographing fallen animals along the roadways of Westchester NY, I began to wonder what happened to all the animals that amassed along our parkways. As I delved further into the project, I came across a startling discovery, that led me to literally unearth an environmentally sound solution to the disposal of our dwindling wildnerness. "Reclaimed."
With increasing habitat fragmentation, the loss of natural predators, and continual expanding of roadways, The New York D.O.T., is faced with the disposal of 25,000 deer carcasses a year from motor vehicle collisions. Traditional methods of disposal––incineration and mass graves, have become prohibitive due to cost and environmental concerns. However, a more viable and practical alternative has become available. Deer composting. “Reclaimed,” considers the practice of deer composting performed by the Department of Transportation in Ulster County NY, which composts over 800 deer carcasses a year.
Deer composting begins with layering the deer carcasses on a bed of wood chips. The pile is regularly rotated, and refreshed with new compost. Over time the carcasses biodegrade, and are generated into a stable soil compound. The newly amended soil––fertile and recycled, is then used to re-landscape the highways.
“Reclaimed” illustrates the conflict between nature and humankind, and addresses the challenge of implementing solutions that are in harmony with our environment.