Bow Hunters Encouraged to Donate Deer to State Hunger Programs of North Dakota

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Bow Hunters Encouraged to Donate Deer to State Hunger Programs of North DakotaPeople who love to bow hunt can pursue their passion and help feed those who are hungry at the same time. The North Dakota Community Action Partnership’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program is encouraging hunters to donate bow-harvested deer to the program.

Anyone with an animal to donate should contact a local Community Action Agency or Ann Pollert at 701-232-2452 for a list of participating Sportsmen Against Hunger processors.

The list is also posted on the state Game and Fish website (158Kb PDF) and the North Dakota Community Action Partnership website (www.capnd.org). This program is currently accepting bow-harvested deer only.

“According to Game and Fish, North Dakota issued about 17,000 bow tags for deer hunting this year,” Ann Pollert, coordinator of the program said. “Meat is a valuable staple for our food pantries and we encourage bow hunters who have harvested an animal they don’t need to donate it to this program. We will use it to help feed the hungry.”

Pollert also said sports clubs and even non-hunters can support this program through financial donations to cover processing costs.

“This program is a win-win for everyone, but funding for processing the meat is the bottleneck,” Pollert said. “Emergency food providers could accept over 71,000 pounds of venison – that’s about 1,400 animals. But with current funding, we aren’t able to come even close to that amount.”

Background on Sportsmen Against Hunger
In 2004, the North Dakota Community Action Partnership (NDCAP) began working with community wildlife groups to develop a venison donation program to help address statewide hunger problems reflected in needs assessments completed by the seven Community Action agencies across the state.

Sportsmen Against Hunger (SAH) is a statewide venison donation program designed to help low income individuals meet their basic food needs. Community Action agencies, along with wildlife groups, service clubs and other sponsors raise funds for venison processing. Processed venison is then distributed throughout the state to food pantries and other emergency food outlets.

When it was launched in 2004, the program accepted 115 donated deer. Last year 381 deer were donated to the program.

The North Dakota Department of Commerce Division of Community Services provides funding to the Community Action Agencies and also supports Sportsmen Against Hunger with funding for processing.

Lead Contamination Issue
Last March, the North Dakota Department of Health recommended that North Dakota food pantries not distribute any more venison donated in 2007 because of evidence that some of the meat contained lead fragments, likely from ammunition used by hunters to kill the deer.

During the last part of May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with the North Dakota Department of Health, conducted a study in North Dakota to try to determine whether blood-lead levels were associated with wild game consumption. More than 700 state citizens participated in the study. The report is expected to be released mid-October.

The SAH program is currently accepting bow-harvested deer only, and will determine if the program will accept rifle-harvested deer once the CDC preliminary report is completed and presented to the Department of Health.

Food pantries should be aware that deer harvested with a bow will have no occurrence of lead fragments and pose no possible health risk to consumers.