Hunters can donate venison to food pantries

Since the program began in 2000, 94,000 deer have been donated.
A grazing deer looks into the camera while walking through the wilderness
A grazing deer looks into the camera while walking through the wilderness(KEYC News Now)
Published: Nov. 7, 2021 at 9:51 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin’s gun deer season is not until the end of the month, but the Department of Natural Resources wants you to start thinking about donating your deer to those in need.

The Deer Donation Program partners with meat processors to distribute thousands of pounds of venison to local food pantries.

“The program was starting to reduce the deer and by allowing donated deer from hunters to get processed and distributed to local food pantries,” DNR Wildlife Damage Program Assistant Sarah Wyrick said.

Since the program began in 2000, 94,000 deer have been donated which equates to more than 3.8 million pounds of venison.

“That’s a lot of meat on people’s tables and it’s a protein that not a lot of people get and it’s a great cause because it’s not something I see in most food pantries that most people don’t expect to see venison,” Wyrick said. “So, it’s a good protein and it’s definitely an essential nutrient that a lot of people are lacking that for food insecure families which is a growing issue in the US and the Midwest.”

The statewide program has 47 counties and 68 processors enrolled. The DNR reimburses the counties and their processors through the Wildlife Damage Abatement Program which come from a surcharge on hunting licenses and monetary donations.

“You can make a monetary donation anytime that you’re applying for a license or any kind of park sticker or anything like that, at that time to do a donation then which program you want it to go to,” Wyrick said.

The DNR is currently looking for more processors to enroll, last year they started the Deer Donation Partners Program.

“That’s kind of a program that’s run by volunteers that kind of assist by hosting a drop off location. So, hunters will be able to instead of taking their deer directly to a processor that might be 100 miles away in a county and there’s going to reduce people who want to donate.” Wyrick said.

Wyrick also said if you don’t want to donate your sole deer to the program, there are other ways to get additional hunting tags to remove deer in farms or urban areas that experience agricultural damage or nuisance issues.

“Hunters are able to use those tags so they can help out with either a local farmer they might have a set of tags, or there might be a municipality that has a set of tags to kind of help with their deer control in those areas. So, counties might be issued tags if they’re having some other problems with their deer,” Wyrick said.

Wisconsin’s gun hunting season is November 20th – 28th.

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