Unusual Findings


When cleaning, all kinds of unexpected situations may occur, as well as surprising findings may appear from the rubbish. Web constable Maarja Punak from the Police and Border Guard Board and the head of the Environmental Protection Department of the Environmental Inspectorate, Allar Leppind, explain how to behave in these situations.

What should you do if you find a dead body or parts that most likely belong to a human body (skeleton, single bone)?

Call 112 and notify them of your finding. Restrict the area with a ribbon, in case there is a need to identify the traces that are located in the vicinity of the find.

How should you behave if you find animal corpses while cleaning?

When finding the corpses of animals, it is necessary to distinguish between domestic and farm animals, and wild animals, and whether the animal is found in a densely populated area (city, settlement) or in a rural area (forest, village, etc.). If an animal has been killed in a traffic accident in a densely populated area, perhaps in a city or town, notify the local government that is responsible for maintenance issues. In a rural area, dead animals can most likely be found near the highways and they have probably been killed by traffic.

If you find the corpses of pets (dogs, cats), it is sensible to bury them on site. The likelihood of such findings is small, because wild animals (racoon dogs, foxes), so to speak, liquidate dead, small animals. Dead, small wild animals (such as rabbits, foxes, raccoon dogs) may also be buried on the spot. It is advised to disinfect your hands, shovels, etc., after burying racoon dogs and foxes to prevent the spread of mange.

If you find larger wildlife (roe deer, wild boars, moose, etc.) in a rural area, inform the environmental information hotline 1313 about the finding and its location; they will notify the representatives of the local hunting area who will organise the liquidation of the dead animal. If you find dead wild boars, contact the environmental information hotline 1313 and call for the representatives of the local hunting area, since due to the African swine fever virus, dead wild boars must be handled and neutralised according to special veterinary requirements.

If you find dead farm animals (cows, sheep, etc.) or remains that can be considered animal waste, notify the Veterinary and Food Board, phone no. 6054750 (answering machine), e-mail or by filling in a special form.

What should you do when someone finds papers and documents that include a person’s name and sensitive data?

Take a picture of the site and place the papers and documents in a separate bag. The garbage can get into different places by accident; it may have been carried by the wind, or intentionally. It is a punishable act to take the garbage some place that is not meant for it. The Environmental Inspectorate or the local police must be informed of the finding, who can together find out the facts. It is strongly advised not to share such data on social media, since it is unclear if a person whose name is mentioned on the papers is aware of the fact where the garbage ended up, and sharing sensitive data is forbidden by law.

If you find documents in the trash, it should be fixed somehow. If possible, identify the name(s) of the person, address, other information, which refers to the litterer, take photos and pin the location as precisely as possible where the documents were found, and forward the materials within a week after the cleanup to the local bureau or to the address valve@kki.ee.

In case of urgent questions, contact the inspectorate’s hotline 1313 and the caller shall be forwarded to the inspector on duty. The Environmental Inspectorate has a guard service operating 24/7 in each county, and at least one operator available who can give advice or, if necessary, help to fix a situation. It should be noted that the inspector may not arrive on site immediately, but this should not interfere with the continuation of the cleanup. The participants can surely finish their cleaning, since the goal is to make the environment cleaner. If during the procedure a person is caught based on the documents, the inspectorate will handle the situation.

What should you do when you find a valuable object that someone might wish to get back?

Items that the owner may want to retrieve are, for example, a bicycle, a cell phone, a tool, or some other valuable item that a person might have lost or that may have ended up in the forest due to a crime against property. Found objects, whose value exceeds 50 euros, can be taken to the nearest precinct. The list of the findings is published in an open database that can be found here. Misappropriation of findings to gain personal profit is a punishable act. If the owner of the object is not found within one year, its disposal or destruction becomes the responsibility of the local government. You may keep objects with lower value if it is ensured that this object is safeguarded for one year and you do your best to find its owner. If the owner is not found, then you have the right to keep the object.

What should you do if there is a road or an intersection alongside the cleaning site and there may be traffic?

The site manager is responsible for the traffic safety of the cleaning site. If there is a road alongside the site, it is advised for the participants to wear reflective vests. If you are near busy traffic, you can contact the local police precinct prior to the cleanup day and ask for safety recommendations. Certainly contact the local police if it is known that the participants’ parked vehicles may interfere with normal traffic or if it is necessary to temporarily shut down access to some roads. The site managers should consider using traffic cones and warning ribbons when planning the cleanup day.