COLUMBUS -- Hunters have donated 1,405 white-tailed deer to local Ohio food banks to benefit Ohioans in need during the 2012 deer hunting season, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
"In the spirit of the holidays, Ohio's deer hunters have shown they are willing to donate venison to those in need," said ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Scott Zody. "We encourage all hunters to enjoy the rest of the hunting season and to consider donating extra harvested deer to this worthy cause."
The donations delivered approximately 70,250 pounds of venison and 281,000 meals for needy Ohioans. Venison donations will be accepted through the end of the deer-archery season, Feb. 3, 2013.
FHFH collected approximately 104,400 pounds of venison, or 417,600 meals, from 2,088 deer last season. In 2010-2011, donations totaled approximately 125,150 pounds of venison, or 500,600 meals, from 2,503 deer.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife collaborates with FHFH to assist with the processing costs associated with donating venison to a food bank. The program allows for subsidy grants to be provided in allotments that are matched with funds generated or collected by local Ohio FHFH chapters. The division subsidized this year's FHFH operation as an additional deer management tool, helping wildlife managers encourage hunters to harvest more does.
Venison donated to participating food banks must be processed by a federal, state or locally inspected and insured meat processor.
Hunters wishing to donate their deer are not required to pay for the processing of the venison as long as the program has available funds.
Ohio currently has 80 participating meat processors and 32 FHFH local chapters. Anyone interested in becoming a local program coordinator or a participating meat processor can go to fhfh.org and click on the Local FHFH tab.
The website includes a list of coordinators, program names and the counties they serve.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.
Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.com.