Deer Hunters Encouraged to Donate to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program

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More than 1.8 million meals provided to needy families thanks to hunters

Deer Hunters Encouraged to Donate to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program SPRINGFIELD, IL – With deer hunting season underway across the state, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is encouraging hunters to donate whole deer to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, which coordinates the donation and processing of venison provided to food banks, food pantries, and charitable organizations throughout the state.

Begun in 1989, the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger (ISAH) program has coordinated the donation of more than 467,000 pounds of venison, providing more than 1.8 million meals for families and individuals in need.

“Every year, thousands of deer hunters in Illinois help provide venison to food banks, food pantries, and the needy families those facilities serve by donating deer to the program,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood.  “Everyone wins with the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program.  Hunters help us manage the state’s deer population, while providing food for people who can use it.”

The IDNR and the Illinois Conservation Foundation encourage hunters to, if they wish, make a tax-deductible $50 contribution through the ICF to help cover the cost of processing the deer into ground venison.  Hunters may donate deer to the program without making an additional monetary contribution.

“The $50 donation that we receive from many hunters helps cover some of the costs of processing the venison,” said Greg Legan, executive director of the Illinois Conservation Foundation.  “Thanks to the support of hunters, donors, and participating meat processors throughout the state, thousands of Illinois families benefit from the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program.”

Monetary donations to Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger can be made to the Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

The funds help cover the costs of processing venison by nearly 50 participating meat processors throughout the state.  

The IDNR also encourages hunters and landowners to obtain additional antlerless deer permits to assist in deer management and to support the ISAH program.  The IDNR earmarks $100,000 from the state Wildlife and Fish Fund to assist in covering the costs of processing venison for the ISAH program from deer taken by hunters in areas of the state with growing deer populations. The additional funding is provided through non-resident archery deer permit fees.

The deer hunting seasons for 2008-09 in Illinois include the Archery Deer Season (Oct. 1-Jan. 15), the Firearm Deer Season (Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 4-7), the Muzzleloader-only Deer Season (Dec. 12-14), and the Late Winter Antlerless-only Deer Season (Jan. 16-18, 2009).

For a list of meat processors handling venison for the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program, or for more information about the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, check the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us/legislation/isah/.