Hunters, meat processors and food pantries helped the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and its partners donate more than 90,000 pounds of venison to those in need in 2013.
"We are very proud to be part of this community-based program," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Anytime we can have a safe, successful deer hunt and donate valuable food to our pantries it's a win-win for Wisconsin."
More than 2,000 deer were donated through the DNR deer donation program and processed packages of ground venison were distributed to food pantries statewide. The number of deer donated decreased by 27 percent compared to 2012, likely a result of fewer deer harvested.
"Regardless of the number of deer donated, the program is always considered a success," said DNR wildlife damage biologist Dan Hirchert.
"The deer donation program was designed to provide an outlet for surplus deer — whether hunters consume their own deer or donate to those in need, the meat is being put to great use," Hirchert said.
Since the program began in 2000, hunters have donated more than 85,000 deer and more than 3.8 million pounds of venison. The collected meat is distributed to Wisconsin families in need of food assistance. The program relies on cooperation with counties across the state, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services and community programs like Hunt for the Hungry and Target Hunger. These organizations help organize donations, coordinate processing, and distribute venison.
For more information about the DNR's deer donation program and more on how people can help, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "deer donation."