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Participation up 8 percent in venison donation program

From Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- More Wisconsin hunters and meat processors donated venison and volunteered time to provide venison to people in need in 2012. Participation in the program was up 8 percent over 2011, likely a result of increased hunter turnout.

More than 3,000 deer were donated through the DNR deer donation program, which were then processed and distributed to food pantries statewide.

“This year was a success thanks to the generosity of participating hunters, meat processors and volunteers alike,” said Noah Balgooyen, wildlife damage program biologist. “Over 170,000 pounds of ground venison was distributed to Wisconsin families in need of food assistance.”

Since the program started in 2000, hunters have donated over 80,000 deer, totaling more than 3.5 million pounds of venison.

The program relies on cooperation with counties across the state, USDA-Wildlife Services, and community programs such as Hunt for the Hungry and Target Hunger Venison Donation program who help organize the donations, the processing, and ultimately the delivery to food pantries.