West Tisbury consider new livestock burial regulations

West Tisbury is considering new livestock burial regulations for public health and environmental protection reasons. — Eunki Seonwoo

The West Tisbury board of health began discussions of potentially implementing new livestock burial regulations during a Zoom meeting on Thursday. 

West Tisbury health agent Omar Johson said the proposed regulations were “taken directly from” the University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension livestock disposal best practices. The best practices list livestock burial methods that prevent diseases from transferring to humans and animals from the carcass, and prevent pollution of the air, soil, and groundwater. 

Johnson and West Tisbury conservation chair Maria McFarlands said they could not find other Massachusetts towns that have these types of livestock burial regulations. 

“I’m in favor of doing this,” board of health member Jessica Miller said. However, Miller said the board should double-check with counsel to see if they would have the authority to enforce this new regulation if it was implemented. 

“I will not pass it at all until we remove some regulations off the board,” West Tisbury board of health chair Tim Barnett said. “We have enough rules as it is. I don’t want to stack up any more. I basically agree with it, but there are too many regulations, misconceptions, and misuse of the rules. I don’t want any more of that.” 

Barnett said he was particularly concerned about general animal health. He had recently received a complaint about the attitude of the person doing chicken inspections, which are done by Johnson and Animal Control Officer Anthony Cordray. 

Johnson said he is very careful about how he deals with people, and has not received many complaints. Johnson said the complaint is a personnel issue rather than a regulations issue. 

“A lot of regulations are in place for reasons, necessary reasons,” Johnson said. “I will honor your request to not pass this until we have further discussion about our current regulations, to which there are quite a few.”