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DNR urges food pantries to take deer

September 19, 2002 The Capital Times by Anita Weier
The state Department of Natural Resources is encouraging food pantries to accept deer, despite the presence of chronic wasting disease in some animals.

In a recent press statement, DNR officials urged food pantry representatives to contact their county Land Conservation Department to be placed on a list to receive venison.

"There seems to be a lot of interest in hunters who want to hunt to take an extra deer but they want to have an extra outlet for it," said Laurie Fike, wildlife damage and abatement claims program specialist. Last year, 4,000 deer were provided for hungry Wisconsin residents in this way.

While some food processors in the core disease area in south-central Wisconsin have dropped out of the program, numerous processors have signed up to help elsewhere in the state.

"It's necessary to have a huge network of volunteers, church groups, social agencies, USDA-Wildlife Services staff, county land conservation departments and sports clubs" to provide the venison, she said.

The state wildlife abatement program pays to process the venison. In addition, hunters contribute to the effort with a voluntary checkoff at the time they purchase a license. As of Aug. 8, hunters had donated more than $9,000 to the program, she said.

Greg Matthews, a spokesman for the DNR, said that most of the 30 counties participating in the program are in the northern and northeast part of the state. In south-central and southwestern Wisconsin, those participating are Grant, Crawford, Richland and Dodge.

The DNR is encouraging hunters to process deer as they have in the past and wait for statewide testing results, in which 500 deer will be tested per county, and more in the south-central region.

He also said that deer carcasses can be buried on a landowner's property if they are buried sufficiently deep so that scavengers can't dig them up, and if they are not buried near a well or a body of water.

All deer in the 389-square-mile eradication zone will be sampled and tested. If a hunter does not want a deer, the DNR will take it for incineration.

The collection sites in the core area are Norslein's Wood Works in Black Earth; Heck's Farm Market in Arena and the Eagle Mart Stop-N-Go in Barneveld. Current hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The sites will be operated through Jan. 31 next year. The bow season runs from Sept. 14 to Jan. 31 and the gun season runs from Oct. 24 to Jan. 31.

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