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Hunters sought for 2008 Venison Donation Program

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The 2008 Venison Donation Program in Wisconsin is starting up and cooperating meat processors are beginning to sign up.

Hunters participating in the 2008 deer hunting seasons may want to check the Department of Natural Resources Web site (www.dnr.state.wi.us) regularly for processors in their area, according to officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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During the 2007 season, hunters donated 9,200 deer to food pantries. A network of 126 processors in 52 counties butchered and ground the venison into more than 414,000 pounds of packaged venison

"The process for donating extra venison hasn't changed from previous years," said Laurie Fike, DNR venison donation program coordinator.

She added that hunters who think they'd like to donate to the program will only have to follow a few simple steps.

"First, call ahead to the processor to be sure of their hours and workload. Then harvest, tag, field dress and register the deer as you normally would. Once it's registered simply bring it to the processor," said Fike.

She added that there is no cost to the hunter other than transporting the deer.

"It puts high quality meat in food pantries for needy families," Fike said.

"Donating deer to the program does more than provide food to families," Keith Warnke, DNR big game ecologist. "By harvesting additional deer you also help reduce crop damages, deer-vehicle collisions and the impacts of selective deer browsing on the forest."

Since the fall hunting season of 2000, hunters have donated more than 63,200 deer, which have provided over 2.8 million pounds of venison to needy people across the state.

A large network of volunteers including sports groups, church groups, civic organizations, Hunt for the Hungry and food pantry staff work together to distribute the meat from the processor to the food pantries.

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