Deer donated to food shelves can be processed at no cost to hunters thanks to a program coordinated by the Minnesota departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture.
“The venison donation program has multiple benefits,” said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “In portions of the state, hunters are encouraged to harvest multiple deer; the program provides hunters an avenue to donate the extra deer they harvest without having to pay processing costs. Demand for food assistance also has been increasing in recent years across Minnesota, and this is a great opportunity to provide locally-sourced meat to families in need.”
More details on the venison donation program, as well as a list of participating meat processors, are available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer/donation. Processors who accept deer are paid $70 to process each animal for food shelf distribution.
Funding for the program comes from surcharges placed on antlerless permits and non-resident hunting licenses.
To donate a deer, hunters will need to adhere to the following guidelines:
Only whole carcasses with the hide on can be donated because processors will not accept cut and wrapped meat or portions of carcasses.
Information such as permit area of harvest and the DNR number will be collected for tracking purposes.
Processors can only accept carcasses for donation that are free from signs of illness, free of visible decomposition or contamination and properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.
Processors will reject deer for the donation program that appear to have been mishandled in any way.
Hunters are strongly advised to contact the processor prior to donating the deer. A list of processors who accept deer for the program is available online at http://go.usa.gov/WDk3.
Prior to 2007, hunters could donate deer to food shelves but had to pay processing costs.