What is done with excess venison?

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Several organizations assist in distributing donated game meat to food charities.  Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry processed  and distributed over 750 tons of deer meat over a 4 year period (1997_2000) to food shelters throughout the United States.  In Connecticut, the Hunters for the Hungry Program assists in distributing donated game to food charities.  Over a 7-year period (1995-2001), Connecticut hunters have donated over 10,000 pounds of venison to food charities in Connecticut.  An additional 7,446 pounds of venison was donated from special herd reduction programs at Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton, Connecticut over a 5-year period.  In Connecticut, donated venison contributed over 72,000 meals valued at over $324,000.  Currently hunters either pay to have deer processed or butchers volunteer their services at no cost or reduced costs.  Several states (TN, WI, VA, and MD) have established programs where hunters can donate $2 at the time of permit sale to go towards processing cost associated with donating deer to Hunters For The Hungry (HFTH).  Maryland was the first state to charge a mandatory fee for venison donation, which is expected to generate nearly $100,000 towards processing costs.

The Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance would like to promote a state run program similar to New York State's to pay for venison butchering for meat that will be donated to food pantries and shelters within Connecticut. It currently costs around $80 per deer. An alternative that the Alliance is promoting is for the state to allow the limited legal sale of venison from controlled or special permit deer control efforts. This would cover the cost of reducing the deer population by municipalities and as such is opposed by both animal activists and by some sport hunters who fear a drop in deer available for sport. This opposition itself suggests just how successful this measure could be at reducing deer populations. For now, donations from the public will help defray the cost of rofessional butchering and reduce one of the bottlenecks that impede effective deer reduction.