The Missouri Department of Conservation said 4,487 deer hunters donated 227,358 pounds of venison from the 2013 Missouri deer harvest to the state’s “Share the Harvest” program.

The program is administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and MDC to help feed hungry Missourians. Share the Harvest orchestrates the efforts of thousands of hunters, numerous local supporting organizations, and more than 100 participating meat processors to get ground venison to people in need through food banks and food pantries around the state.

Those figures were the lowest totals for the program since 2009.

The decline in donated deer meat may be attributable to a smaller deer harvest. Missouri hunters killed more than 252,000 deer last year. That was the lowest number in at least a decade.

Hunters donate their extra venison to participating meat processors who then prepare the donated venison by grinding it into one-pound packages that are given to food banks and food pantries for distribution to those in need.

Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous local program sponsors, and statewide sponsors that include the conservation department, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Missouri Chapter Whitetails Unlimited, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA Inc., Missouri Deer Hunters Association and the Missouri Food Banks Association.

Since the program started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 3.1 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed Missourians in need.

For more information on Share the Harvest, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/node/2544.

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