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Fri, May 11, 2007

Buzzards, Cadavers And Planes... Oh My!

Body Farm Plans Buried

Texas State University has scrapped its plan to build the nation's largest "body farm" near a central Texas airport, over concerns that accompanying buzzards could endanger nearby planes.

The university began scouting a new location for what would be only the third body farm in the nation. The farms are used by forensic scientists to study human decomposition. This helps law enforcement better determine time and manner of death at crime scenes, according to the Associated Press.

The university had chosen a 17-acre site on Texas Highway 21 near the San Marcos Municipal Airport (HYI). It had hoped to begin burying bodies there later this year. But the university dropped its plan out of concern buzzards would pose a risk to pilots after meeting with the airport's commission Tuesday.

"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.

Protection plans for the body farm included a razor-wire fence around the property, vulture-proof cages to protect exposed cadavers and a 70-foot grass buffer around the site to absorb rain runoff.

Other such facilities are located at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville -- which has operated a body farm -- since 1980 and Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, which opened the nation's second such facility last year.

FMI: www.txstate.edu, http://ci.san-marcos.tx.us/departments/airport

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