updated 5/12/2006 4:51:14 PM ET 2006-05-12T20:51:14

A dead cow stuck on a West Fork River dam is creating a stink as the residents of West Milford are upset no agency will step forward to haul the carcass out of the river.

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The Division of Natural Resources, the departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, and the Clarksburg Water Board, which owns the dam, say the decaying bovine is not their problem.

The brown and white Hereford is stuck on a dead tree at the West Milford Dam, about 500 feet outside West Milford's town limits. The cow has not been claimed by farmers upstream, and officials are not sure how the animal ended up in the river.

"You can definitely smell it before you get to it," said Ken Lasure, who lives about 300 yards from the dam. "Personally, I think it's the (DNR's) problem. I don't think it's the community's problem."

Town secretary Roberta Ash says she's called every state department she can think of in response to citizens' complaints. She also called the Clarksburg Water Board, which referred her to other agencies.

"Most of the agencies are telling us it's not their problem," Ash said. "It is frustrating, mainly, not knowing who to contact. A lot of state agencies weren't sure who to contact, either."

The animal isn't the town's problem because its not stuck in the town's limits.

Since the cow is not a wild animal, it's not the DNR's problem, said agency spokesman Hoy Murphy.

Apparently the animal doesn't represent an environmental problem either.

The DEP sent inspectors earlier this week, and they confirmed there was a dead cow, but there wasn't anything the agency could do, said agency spokeswoman Jessica Greathouse.

Buddy Davidson, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, said, at this point, they're treating it as a local issue. Davidson said the cow may be on private property, but he wasn't sure.

If it's on private property, the agency would coordinate and supervise the animal's removal, then bill the landowner.

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