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Published April 18, 2009, 05:19 AM

Venison donations to food banks increase

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Hunters in South Dakota donated 90,000 pounds of venison and 3,066 pheasants to feed the needy last year, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year's donations through the Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Hunters in South Dakota donated 90,000 pounds of venison and 3,066 pheasants to feed the needy last year, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year's donations through the Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

Hunters donate deer or antelope they shoot. The meat is ground up and distributed through community food banks. Certificates are available to cover all or most of the processing costs. Just over 2,300 certificates were used.

"The generosity of hunters never ceases to amaze me" said Jeff Olson, president of the Sportsmen Against Hunger program. "Sportsmen also donated 271 antlered deer, which do not qualify for the certificate program. They picked up the processing fees themselves on those deer. The hunting tradition is strong in South Dakota and the results of last year's program show that the tradition of sharing with those less fortunate is strong as well."

Certificates worth $50 for antlerless deer and $40 certificates for doe/fawn antelope were available at participating processors. Hunters used 1,950 certificates for antlerless deer and 354 certificates for antelope in 2008, an increase of 547 over 2007's total.

Community Food Banks of South Dakota estimated the donations provided meat for over 360,000 meals.

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