Wisconsin food pantries seeing less venisonThe DNR and food pantries in southern Wisconsin say deer donations seem a bit low this year.
By: By Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The DNR and food pantries in southern Wisconsin say deer donations seem a bit low this year. The repeal of earn-a-buck and a poor economy could be to blame.
Since 2000, hunters have had the option to donate their deer to food pantries through the Department of Natural Resources' Deer Donation Program, which serves pantries in the southern portions of the state. But Wildlife Program Administrator Kurt Theide says this year's donations are down.
"Despite the fact that it looks like harvest statewide is up about 5.8 percent we were noticing some lagging in venison donations from some of our food pantry partners,” he said.
Theide says it's too early to say why donations are down and there's plenty of hunting to do. In Poynette, D and G Meat Processing takes in donated deer and processes them for food pantries in the area. Edie Miller helps run the business and says deer donations are down 50 percent this year.
"The numbers are down for the food pantry and I think it has a lot to do with maybe the economy people are keeping the deer, keeping their meat and now that they don't have to shoot a doe to get a buck,” Miller said.
That's because the state legislature repealed the DNR's Earn-A-Buck program which forced hunters to shoot an antlerless deer first.
Lisa Williams, who works with the Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, says no matter the reason food pantries need more venison because of a change in federal commodities.
"With the reduction of the meat products coming in the food pantries are very hopeful to be receiving a lot of venison to distribute,” she said.
Since the DNR's Deer Donation Program was created in 2000 nearly four million pounds of venison has made its way to Wisconsin food pantries.