States giving venison donations a lift

by Bryan Salvage
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CINCINNATI — As Ohio and other states offer financial aid aimed at managing high deer populations, hunters are donating more venison to struggling food banks as pantries attempt to meet rising demand, according to The Associated Press.

Feeding America, the national food bank association, has witnessed demand for help more than double at some of its food banks. The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks said the number of people served by its member charities was up 37% in the fourth quarter ending June 30, compared with the previous fourth quarter.

For the first time last year, Ohio's wildlife division provided a $100,000 grant for processing fees, which was matched by Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks. Last year, Ohio hunters donated more than 1,000 deer — more than double the previous year's total — providing venison for 220,000 meals.

This year, the agency hopes to double donations, but its main goal is deer population management. The state wants to cull the 650,000 deer estimated in areas where hunting is allowed down to 500,000, said division deer biologist Mike Tonkovich. Management helps control deer disease, prevents damage to crops and lawns and hazards to motorists and prevents deer from depleting food sources needed by other wildlife, he said.

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