Birds thwart human body farm

First Grader
A university has scuttled plans to set up a human body farm after a nearby airport warned that vultures drawn to the corpses would be too close to its flight paths.

It was the second time a complaint from neighbors forced the Texas university to look for a new site for the body farm.

The farm will be used as a forensic research facility to help law enforcement officers determine the rate at which bodies decompose. This will help them better pinpoint time of death in murder investigations.

It will house six to eight corpses at a time in various states of decomposition.

Some will be buried in shallow graves, some will be deep underground and others will be left on the surface.

A razor-wire fence will keep larger animals and the curious away and the bodies on the surface will be protected with mesh cages.

But the smell of a body decomposing in the Texas sun is bound to attract flocks of the huge birds.

"Their concern was that with incoming and outgoing air traffic large birds would be a dangerous mix,'' Texas State University spokesman Mark Hendricks said.

Officials at the university will start looking for a new site sometime next week, Hendricks said.

There are currently two other body farms in the United States: one in Tennessee and another in North Carolina.

But the climate and topography in Texas is very different and those studies don't adequately establish the rate of decomposition in the Lone Star State.

"We very much want this facility,'' Hendricks said in a telephone interview.

"To be able to make a baseline study in this region under these conditions would be very useful for law enforcement.''

The university had hoped to set up the body farm on the east side of San Marcos, Texas which is part of the state's hot and dusty plains region.

But now it looks as though they will have to find a spot in the less-popular hilly areas to the north and west of the city.

"We're going to find one without neighbors,'' Hendricks said

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