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Dead animals dumped on S'side Port property

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Sunnyside Port Operations Manager Brad Berk (L) discusses the dumping of more than 50 animals on Port property with Sunnyside Police Officer Joe Guillen.

The corpses of more than 50 animals dumped near the gate to the Sunnyside rendering plant on Midvale Road greeted Sunnyside Port District Operations Manager Brad Berk late yesterday afternoon

Berk happened upon the grisly sight of the bloated bodies of 45 calves, three cows and a dead brown pony, while making his routine inspection of Port property. He said the animals appear to have been dumped outside the gates of the Darling International sometime earlier in the week.

The local rendering plant is no long accepting the corpses of abandoned animals, said Berk, who added Wednesday's discovery is the biggest mess he has seen along the road.

Berk said since the Dec. 23 discovery of a case of BSE in Mabton, the plant has refused to accept any animals without first knowing the animals' origins. Attempts to contact the plant this morning were unsuccessful, but a person in the company's Tacoma office confirmed that the new policy is in effect as a safety measure.

Berk said in the past he has found an occasional dead animal dumped outside the gates to the rendering plant. He said until recently the plant workers simply removed the animals, but that is no longer the case.

"There are even a couple fighting roosters and a dead dog in this pile," he said.

This morning Port officials were attempting to determine how to dispose of the animals.

"We have been in contact with the USDA and the Washington State Department of Agriculture, but they have no interest in the case at this point," said M'Liss Bierlink, a Port spokesman.

"At this point we still don't know how we will remove the animals," she said.

Bierlink said her office was contacted by Art McKuen of the Yakima County Health Department yesterday about the time "...Brad discovered the bodies."

Bierlink said McKuen told her he had received a call from the company's general manager, Phil Anderson, regarding the animals.

"McKuen said he would be getting back to me after talking with the Yakima County Solid Waste Management Department," Bierlink said.

"We want people to know we plan to take steps to prevent the future dumping of animals along Midvale Road," Bierlink said.

Exactly what those steps might be haven't been firmly established, Bierlink said. She suggested the steps may include the installation of video cameras, remote control gates and street lights.

"People usually dump off the animals under the cover of night," said Berk. "Street light out there should help deter such activity," he added.

. Julia Hart can be contacted at

(509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail her at jhart@eaglenewspapers.com

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