Deer Donation Program Approaches Record

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Wisconsin hunters have donated nearly 6,000 white-tailed deer to the Wisconsin Deer Donation 2003 program to date, providing about 265,000 pounds of ground venison for needy families across the state. This exceeds the amount of deer donated last year and approaches the record for venison donation set in 2000.

“Wisconsin hunters have again been very generous to needy people through their hunting efforts,” said Laurie Fike, Wildlife Damage Program Assistant with the Department of Natural Resources. “Donations will continue to come in until December 31 and we expect to get close to our record first year when 7,765 deer were donated.”

The program began three years ago and is funded by the DNR Wildlife Damage Program, which is supported by hunter license dollars and operates in cooperation with the hunting organization Hunt for the Hungry.

“About 6,600 hunters have made monetary donations to the program totaling over $18,800 this year,” Fike said. “These monetary donations help cover processing costs so that hunters don’t have to pay a processing fee when donating deer.”

At no cost, hunters can donate deer that they harvest by delivering them to participating venison-processing facilities in Wisconsin. The venison is butchered and distributed to food pantries across the state.

A large network of volunteers including sports groups, church groups, civic organizations, and food pantry staff work together to distribute the meat from the processor to the food pantries. United States Department of Agriculture– Wildlife Services staff, DNR staff, and county wildlife damage staff also help administer the program.

“We are very pleased with the amount of donations, both venison and monetary, that the program has received so far this year, “Fike said. “We are especially pleased with the number of deer donated in areas of the state where we are urging hunters to take more deer than in previous years in order to reduce the population. It indicates that hunters are indeed taking more deer and taking advantage of the donation program to share meat they cannot use.”

The Wisconsin Deer Donation Program 2003 ends Dec. 31. More information and a list of processors participating the Deer Donation 2003 program can be found on the DNR Web site.