Illinois Hunters Asked to Support Sportsmen Against Hunger

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The opening of the new deer hunting season on Sunday means thousands of families in Illinois will benefit from the generosity of deer hunters who donate to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Begun in 1989, Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger (ISAH) allows hunters to donate deer they harvest to provide venison for distribution to food banks, food pantries and charitable organizations helping feed the hungry throughout the state.

"The Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program really does make a difference, providing tens of thousands of pounds of venison each year for food banks and charity organizations," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Acting Director Sam Flood. "Over the years, hunters have donated more than 287,000 pounds of venison, providing more than 1.1 million meals for needy families."

The IDNR and the Illinois Conservation Foundation encourage hunters to donate deer and a tax-deductible $35 contribution through the ICF to help cover the cost of processing the deer meat.

The IDNR has earmarked $100,000 from the state Wildlife and Fish Fund to assist in covering the costs of processing venison for the ISAH program from deer taken by hunters in areas of the state with growing deer populations. The additional funding is provided through non-resident archery deer permit fees.

"This additional funding is a real benefit for the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program and for our deer management effort in the state," Flood said. "We hope the program encourages hunters and landowners to obtain additional permits, take another antlerless deer, and donate it to the program."

The 2006-07 Illinois Archery Deer Season is Oct. 1 - Jan. 11. The Firearm Deer Season is Nov. 17 - 19 and Nov. 30 - Dec. 3. The Muzzleloader-only Deer Season is Dec. 8 - 10.

More than 70 Illinois counties will be open for the Late Winter Antlerless-Only Firearm Deer Season set for Jan. 12 - 14. Applications for the Late Winter season, including a list of open counties, will be available in mid-October. IDNR encourages hunters throughout Illinois to take antlerless deer and donate the whole deer to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Venison distributed to food banks, food pantries and charities throughout the state will benefit thousands of needy families - and hunters will assist efforts to manage the state's growing deer population.

Monetary donations to Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger can be made to the Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271. The funds help cover the costs of processing venison by nearly 50 participating meat processors throughout the state.

For a list of meat processors handling venison for the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program, check the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us/legislation/isah/.

For further information about Illinois Sportsmen against Hunger, contact Tracy Shafer, Program Coordinator, at 217/785-5091 or by e-mail at Tracy.Shafer@Illinois.gov.