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Disposal of Deceased Animals


Even with proper care, animal deaths occur and agriculturalists must properly dispose of animal remains to protect the public from health issues and to protect natural resources. North Carolina has established regulations that guide the disposal of animals and this webpage topic will provide detailed information about proper disposal of animals including methods and time restrictions. 

Applicable Law

Disposition of Dead Domesticated Animals, N.C.G.S. § 106-403

Regulations on Disposal of Dead Animals, 02 NCAC 52C .0102

Disposal of Dead Diseased Poultry at Commercial Farms, N.C.G.S. § 106-549.70


How should I dispose of dead animals?

The owner of a domesticated animal that dies must either bury the animal to a depth of three feet beneath the surface of the ground or dispose of the animal in a manner approved by the State Veterinarian. The animal must not be buried within 300 feet of any flowing stream or public body of water. N.C.G.S. § 106-403. Methods approved by the State Veterinarian for animal disposal include:

  • rendering at a rendering plant licensed under N.C.G.S. § 106‑168.7;
  • complete incineration;
  • in the case of dead poultry, placing in a disposal pit as prescribed in N.C.G.S. § 106‑549.70; and
  • any method which in the professional opinion of the State Veterinarian would make possible the salvage of part of a dead animal's value without endangering human or animal health. 02 NCAC 52C .0102.

How soon must I dispose of a dead animal?

The owner of the animal or the landowner where the animal dies must properly dispose of the animal within 24 hours after knowledge of the death. N.C.G.S. § 106-403.

Can a dead animal be moved from my property to another property?

It is unlawful for a dead animal to be moved from one property to another without written permission from the individual who has charge of the property to which the animal is being moved. Even if the animal is moved to a new property, it must be disposed of in accordance with existing law. N.C.G.S. § 106-403.

What if the owner of a dead animal cannot be identified?

The owner or operator of the land where the animal dies is responsible for disposing of the animal. When the owner cannot be identified within a municipality or county then an individual designated by the municipality or county must properly dispose of the animal and the costs incurred may be recovered from the animal’s owner when the owner is identified. N.C.G.S. § 106-403.

How should poultry be disposed of?

Poultry are included in the definition of “domesticated animal” in N.C.G.S. § 106-403 and therefore can be disposed of in accordance with that statute which is outlined above. Commercial poultry farms, defined as those that (add commercial poultry farm definition), are subject to different provisions regarding disposal. Every person, firm, or corporation engaged in raising or producing poultry for commercial purposes must have a disposal pit, incinerator, or poultry composting facility of a size and design approved by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. All dead poultry at commercial farms must be disposed of in this way. Poultry producers with flocks of 200 or less are exempt from these commercial requirements and are subject to general disposal requirements. N.C.G.S. § 106-549.70.

Can I dispose of animal carcasses at a landfill?

Some landfills will accept animal carcasses and dispose of them in a method prescribed by North Carolina law. Check with your local landfill to find out if they offer this service and how much they charge for the service. Click here to find a list of landfills in North Carolina sorted by County.

Can animal carcasses be composted?

Certain species of animals may be composted. The NC Department of Agriculture does not regulate composting as the authority to regulate composting falls under the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Contact NC DENR to find out more about composting.

Disclaimer: The materials available on this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site does not create an attorney-client relationship between NCDA&CS and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of NCDA&CS or any state employee.

Some links within the NC Ag Law website may lead to other sites. NCDA&CS does not incorporate any materials appearing in such linked sites by reference, and does not necessarily sponsor, endorse or otherwise approve of such linked materials.  

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