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Iowa Deer Hunters share harvest with needy

From the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

-- Iowa deer hunters donated more than 7,300 deer to the needy by the close of the 2008-09 deer season through the cooperative Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH) program. Venison from those deer amounted to 320,000 pounds, or about 1.3 million quarter-pound servings.

Last season was the sixth year in which hunters could leave field-dressed deer at nearly 90 lockers around the state. It brought the total to about 32,500 donated deer, or 6.2 million servings of venison.
A $1 fee on all deer licenses is collected by the Iowa DNR to pay the lockers $65 per deer in processing costs. The Food Bank of Iowa coordinates distribution of venison to pantries and missions, and it administers payments to lockers, all for $5 per deer.

HUSH coordinator Ross Harrison of the DNR said deer donation is a "win-win-win effort. Hunters get to shoot more deer, which helps the DNR achieve its management goal to reduce deer numbers. Our less fortunate citizens are provided with one of the healthiest sources of red meat, and Iowa lockers are given more business to help them through struggling times."
The number of donated deer was down about 10 percent from a year earlier, partly due to declining deer numbers, but also because more hunters kept venison because of their own economic concerns, Harrison said.

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