ENUMCLAW, Wash. -- Washington's Department of Agriculture said Wednesday it is investigating claims an Enumclaw pig farmer has illegally disposed of dead animals on his land, leaving "piles" of carcasses unburied and close to nearby ditches.
King County's Department of Permitting and Environmental Review also said it has observed "sufficient junk and debris" to begin a code enforcement process on Horton Farm, which is owned by Wayne Horton.
Complaints, which date back to at least 2011, revolve around towers of pallets and other materials bunched around the main building at the farm and the disposal of animals.
Neighbors, who did not want to be identified, wrote to county officials more than a dozen dead pigs and other animals were putting material into the groundwater, violating state law.
A county solid waste investigator reported last month spotting "two piles of dead animals" mostly covered with soil.
Dumping deceased farm animals on farm property is not unusual, state agriculture officials said, but rules involving how deep they should be buried and where they can be dumped are clear.
In a phone interview, Horton indicated he has done nothing wrong, and the animal piles stem from recent cold snaps.
"I had a bunch of pigs that piled onto each other and suffocated the bottom ones," said Horton, "The water table here is close. Unless you dig a deep hole for animals quickly with no water, they float. "I'm not a slacker," he continued, "The area where I dump animals usually has eagles and coyotes. This year, they're gone."
Horton said his neighbors are unfairly targeting him. He also acknowledged the junk on his property, and said he was hiring staff to help clean it up.
A spokesperson for the Washington Dept. of Agriculture said it was still investigating the complaint.