750 thousand hunters are expected to take to the woods across Pennsylvania during the two-week deer hunting season that began Monday, and hunters are being urged to donate deer meat to the “Hunters Sharing the Harvest’’ program, which distributes venison to Pennsylvania food banks, soup kitchens and pantries.
“Hunger affects more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians in all corners of our state,” said PA Agriculture Department spokesperson Samantha Krepps, “By donating venison, hunters can help keep food on their neighbor’s tables this winter.”
Hunters can take their deer to one of more than 100 participating meat processors throughout the state. They can donate any amount of their venison to the program, from several pounds to the entire animal.
“Venison is high in protein, naturally low in fat, and it’s a wonderful source of food to provide to any needy family,” Krepps said.
The “Hunters Sharing the Harvest’’ program had been going on for 21 years.
“In 2011 alone, generous hunters donated nearly 100,000 pounds of venison, distributed by more than 100 food banks and pantries in 49 counties across the state," said Krepps. "Since the program’s inception back in 1991, hunters have donated more than 1 million pounds of venison to needy Pennsylvanians.”
Any hunter donating an entire deer is asked to make a minimum $15 tax-deductible contribution to help cover processing costs. The program covers all remaining fees.
The Department of Agriculture, through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program, contributes $1.25 per pound of donated venison to reimburse processors. The deer meat is processed into ground venison before it is distributed.
Game Commission to Sample for Chronic Wasting Disease
Each year during the two-week firearms deer season, the state Game Commission collects samples of hunter-killed deer to determine if chronic wasting disease (CWD) is present in the wild deer populations. Statewide Game Commission teams will begin collecting deer heads on the third day of the hunting season Wednesday, November 28
The commission is intensifying its focus this year within a 600-square-mile Disease Management Area (DMA) in York and Adams Counties where two captive-raised deer were determined to have been infected with CWD.
Executive Director Carl Roe said the commission will collect samples throughout the season from all hunter-killed deer as well as any road-killed deer. "It is important to remember that no wild deer have been found to be infected with CWD."