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Wisconsin celebrates 20 years of Deer Donation Program

Each year, hunters, meat processors and food pantries help families in need by working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and its partners to donate thousands of pounds of venison to food pantries.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Deer Donation Program, and to celebrate, hunters who donate a deer will receive a commemorative ball cap while supplies last.

“Whether it is harvesting an extra deer or donating the only deer they shoot, Wisconsin hunters have historically shown their willingness to help others by donating deer to the Deer Donation Program,” said DNR wildlife damage program assistant Liz Tanner. “As deer hunters begin preparations for this hunting season, we are encouraging them to again consider the Deer Donation Program.”

Wisconsin’s Deer Donation Program began in 2000, and since then, more than 92,000 deer have been donated, translating to more than 3.7 million pounds of venison distributed to food pantries across the state.

“There are a couple of ways hunters can help,” Tanner said. “Hunters can donate a deer at one of the participating meat processors or, when they purchase a hunting license, they can make a monetary donation to help cover venison processing costs.”

Hunters are advised to plan by knowing where participating processors are located and whether the deer needs to be tested for CWD before donation. Hunters should also call the participating processor before dropping off a deer to make sure the processor is prepared to accept the deer.

For more information about the DNR’s deer donation program, a list of participating meat processors, CWD sampling requirements and more on how to help, visit and search keywords “deer donation.”