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Hunters donate 400,000 pounds of venison to food pantries

Wisconsin deer hunters responded in a big way to the 2007 Venison Donation Program.

They delivered and donated 9,200 deer to 126 participating meat processors in 52 Wisconsin counties.

After processing, donations provided more than 414,000 pounds of ground venison that was distributed to food pantries.

"Since the 2000 fall hunting season, hunters have donated more than 63,200 deer, which provided more than 2.8 million pounds of venison to hungry families in Wisconsin," said Laurie Fike, venison donation project coordinator.

"From conversations I've had with similar programs in other states, it's clear that Wisconsin's program is second to none," Fike said.

The program provides high quality protein to pantry shoppers and an outlet for excess venison that hunters, their families or friends and neighbors may not be able to use.

Wisconsin hunters embrace a strong ethic against taking game that will not be eaten, say wildlife managers.

The donation program involves volunteers from sports and church groups, civic organizations and food pantry staff.

The Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and county wildlife damage staff help administer the program. Hunt for the Hungry, a private organization located in northeast Wisconsin, is also a strong partner.

The Top 5 counties for donations this season were: Buffalo, 797 deer; Trempealeau, 693; Waupaca, 430; Fond du Lac, 384; and St. Croix, 368.