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Hunting to Help the Hungry

October 30, 2007

St. Paul, MN – With the start of regular deer-hunting season Saturday, hunters this year have the opportunity to both enjoy the sport and feed the hungry. A new law encourages donations of deer carcasses to food shelves. State Representative Rick Hanson from South Saint Paul sponsored the bill.

"It's a good idea that helps those folks that need help. It also helps reduce the deer population, resulting in fewer car-deer collisions; and we lessen the impact on the environment caused by an overabundance of deer."

The law also allows hunters to donate a few dollars to food shelves when they buy their licenses. Patterned after similar legislation in Wisconsin and Iowa, it is meant to give hunters a "hassle-free" means to help fill the tables of hungry Minnesotans.

"The way it works is that a hunter takes a deer, brings it to an approved locker plant, and the state reimburses the cost of butchering the deer. Following processing, the local food shelves distribute the venison to the hungry."

He says the policy is expected to result in annual donations of 6,000 deer, which will provide 200,000 pounds of quality meat.

Colleen Moriarty with Hunger Solutions Minnesota says hunters have a history of donating to food shelves, and this makes the process easier.

"The processing fee will be paid by the state with the product being donated in the local community. And venison is a great source of additional low-fat food for hungry people in our state."

She says Minnesota's food shelves had almost two million visits last year, up five percent from the year before. She believes the reasons for the increase are a combination of fewer well-paying jobs and rising living costs.

More information regarding the donation of a deer can be found on the Department of Natural Resources Web site, www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Jim Wishner/John Robinson, Public News Service - MN