This project is a group effort from the entire team, led by Iain Phillips

If you’ve spent time down by the river this May, you may have seen a dead pig floating by! This is the latest project in collaboration between the RCMP, Water Security Agency, Ernie Walker of the University of Saskatchewan, and Troutreach whose collective goal is to better inform search efforts for missing persons in the Saskatchewan River. This is the third experiment involving the deployment of a pig carcass that will be tracked, monitored, and hopefully recovered further downstream.

When a body disappears into the river finding it is often a matter of chance, and through these experiments we hope to make search efforts more predictable. For example, how far does it travel, and how does temperature and variation in river flow affect this outcome? The pig is equipped with GPS, temperature, and pressure loggers to help track its movements downstream and in the water column. Pig carcasses are commonly used in forensic entomological research because they are very similar, scientifically speaking, to a human body.

As entomologists, we hope to recover the pig after significant decomposition has occurred. Maybe the insects present will help tell a story. We hope to address questions like: are there specific insect groups associated with scavenging in aquatic systems, and/or can we use this information to tell time of death? Our hope is that this information can be used to help future investigations into missing persons in the Saskatchewan River.