Do your research before burying livestock lost to wildfire

Follow state-approved methods for burying carcasses of livestock killed by wildfires

Natural disasters like wildfires leave some agricultural producers contemplating burial of deceased animals as the most expedient way to dispose of livestock carcasses. In fact, burial is perhaps the most common method of carcass disposal, but there are state-approved guidelines that must be followed.

State criminal statutes require the following:

It shall be unlawful to bury any carcass in any land along any stream or ravine where it is liable to become exposed through erosion of the soil or where the land is subject to overflow at any time.

It shall be unlawful for any person to leave or deposit the carcass of any animal, chicken or other fowl, whether it shall have died from disease or otherwise, in any well, spring, pond or stream of water; or leave or deposit the same within a quarter mile of any occupied dwelling or any public highway without burying; and

Every person who violates the two preceding sections shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Burial of dead livestock and poultry requires the construction of a pit.

The bottom of the burial pit must be at least 1 foot above any floodplain level and at least 2 feet above the seasonal-high water table.

If there is bedrock in the area, the bottom of the pit must be at least 2 feet above the bedrock.

The burial pit must be located at least 300 feet from any wells, waters of the state, neighboring residences, public areas or property lines.

Carcasses must be covered with a minimum of 2.5 feet of topsoil after placement in the pit.

Burial pits should be routinely inspected to ensure wild animals do not dig up and drag carcasses away.

Licensed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Registered Poultry Feeding Operations must receive permission from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry’s Agricultural Environmental Management Services Division prior to burial.

AEMS also will work with non-licensed operations to provide guidance. AEMS can be contacted by phone at 405-522-4659.

ODAFF regulates livestock and poultry mortality in the state.

For additional information about disposing of carcasses download the free of charge OSU Extension Fact Sheet ANSI-8219, “Proper Disposal of Routine and Catastrophic Livestock and Poultry Mortality,” at and contact the nearest county Extension office. To find the nearest office, go to