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DNR Hopes Hunters Are Generous For The Deer Donation Program

Wisconsin DNR

Hungry people have benefited for nearly two decades from a voluntary program where hunters donate a deer gathered to be processed for use by local food pantries.

The DNR established the Deer Donation Program in the year 2000.

Wildlife biologist Noah Balgooyen helps coordinate the program. He explains how the program works...

"....all hunters have to do is drop off the deer at one of the participating meat processors and sign their name on a sheet, and that that's it. That meat will be processed free of charge and donated to local food pantries throughout the state...."

More than 90,000 deer have been donated and more than 3.6 million pounds of venison have been processed and distributed to food pantries across the state. Balgooyen says the amount of venison donated has been falling, he says, because in 2000 when the program started more deer were being harvested. Last year 1,250 deer were donated and he hopes that number will increase this deer season. Deer harvested in 18 CWD-affected counties must be sampled for CWD prior to, or at the time of donation. The processed venison will be held until results are known.

But Balgooyen says even though CWD has been identified in Oneida, Vilas and Forest counties, the stricter restrictions are not in effect...

"....even though they are CWD-affected counties, because we haven't had any wild deer test positive, (holding deer for testing) is not a requirement from the Department of Health Services at this time. Any deer harvested in Vilas, Oneida or Forest county can go directly to a food processor for donation....."

Balgoyinn says they accept cash donations to help pay for processing. For more information about the DNR's deer donation program, CWD sampling requirements, and more on how you can help, visit dnr.wi.govand search keywords "deer donation."

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