Cpl Tyler Hadland pig carcass

Cpl. Tyler Hadland stands on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River along with the pig carcass the RCMP is placing in the river as part of a research project. (Jennifer Quesnel/CBC)

RCMP officers placed a pig carcass in the South Saskatchewan River today as part of a research project to better understand how to locate drowning victims. 

The "F" Division Major Crime, Historical Case Unit (HCU), which is responsible for investigating unsolved murders and missing persons, attached a tracking and temperature monitoring device to the carcass. 

dead pig

RCMP used this pig carcass to research tracking drowning victims in the South Saskatchewan River. (CBC)

The pig carcass, which weighs just over 80 kilograms, was placed in the river near the Saskatoon Canoe Club's dock and will be monitored as it moves downstream. The main purpose of the project is to determine how far and how fast a body could travel down the river before reaching a resting point. 

Corporal Tyler Hadland said there are six missing people in Saskatchewan who the RCMP presume drowned, but no bodies have ever been found.

"The Saskatoon historical case unit has been annually searching the river by plane and by boat for the past number of years and we haven't been able to recover any of these bodies," he said. "So it's quite a mystery as far as where these bodies end up." 

Corporal Hadland said he hopes this research will help give officers insight into where the bodies end up. 

North Saskatchewan test

The first phase of the project took place in the fall of 2013, when a pig carcass was placed in the North Saskatchewan River in North Battleford. A week later, the carcass was found on a sand bar about 20 km from its starting point. The distance travelled, flow rate and temperature was collected and will be used in future missing person cases where a person is believed to have drowned in that river, the RCMP said.

The HCU has teamed up with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency and will carry out the test a number of times at various water levels, flows and weather conditions in both the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers.