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Iowa reminds hunters to share harvest with the hungry

From the Help Us Stop Hunger Program

-- With deer season just around the corner, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources asks that successful hunters this season take the opportunity to share their deer harvest with those less fortunate.

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. Over these years, HUSH charted 32,500 donated deer yielding 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. We are honored that sportsmen hunting in Iowa go the extra distance to participate in this program.”

The number of donated deer in the 2008-09 season was down about 10 percent from the previous season, partly because of declining deer numbers, but also because Harrison believed more hunters kept venison due to their own economic concerns.

For more information on  the HUSH program go to: www.iowadnr.gov/other/hush/index.html

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