Buzzards cause rethinking of ‘body farm’
SAN MARCOS, Texas – Texas State University’s plan to build the nation’s largest “body farm” of cadavers is on hold over concerns that buzzards could endanger nearby planes.
The university’s scrapped its proposed site and began scouting a new location for what would be only the third body farm in the nation. The farms are used by scientists who bury cadavers to study human decomposition to help police better determine time and manner of death at crime scenes.
Texas State had hoped to begin burying bodies later this year on a 17-acre site on Texas Highway 21 near the San Marcos Municipal Airport. But after meeting with the airport’s commission Tuesday, the university dropped the plan out of concern that buzzards would pose a risk to pilots.
“While the increased risk might be very small, it cannot be completely eliminated, and we cannot go forward with the Highway 21 site,” Texas State provost Perry Moore said.
Plans for the site included a razor-wire fence around the property, vulture-proof cages to protect exposed bodies and a 70-foot grass buffer around the site to absorb rain runoff.
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has operated a body farm since 1980. Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., opened the nation’s second such facility last year.