SPRINGFIELD, IL – Deer hunters in Illinois are helping hungry families in Illinois by providing venison to food banks, food pantries, and charitable organizations again this deer season through the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. The program allows hunters to donate whole deer for processing into venison that is provided to food banks for distribution in local communities throughout Illinois.
Since 1994, the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger (ISAH) program has coordinated the donation of more than 573,000 pounds of venison, providing nearly 2.3 million meals for families and individuals in need. More than 106,000 pounds of venison was donated through the program during last year’s deer season.
“The generosity of deer hunters in Illinois is amazing, and thousands of families in need are the beneficiaries of that generosity each year thanks to the hunters who donate to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “The hunters who are helping us manage the state’s deer population are also providing food for people who can use it. We appreciate the support of hunters and the support of individuals who contribute to the program to help cover the cost of processing the venison that is provided to food banks throughout the state.”
The IDNR and the Illinois Conservation Foundation encourage hunters to, if they wish, make a tax-deductible $50 contribution through the ICF to help cover the cost of processing the deer into ground venison. Hunters may donate deer to the program without making an additional monetary contribution.
Monetary donations to Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger can be made by hunters, other individuals, and organizations to the Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271. The funds help cover the costs of processing venison by approximately 50 participating meat processors throughout the state.
The IDNR also encourages hunters and landowners to obtain additional antlerless deer permits to assist in deer management and to support the ISAH program. The IDNR earmarks funding from the state Wildlife and Fish Fund to assist in covering the costs of processing venison for the ISAH program from deer taken by hunters in areas of the state with growing deer populations. The additional funding is provided through non-resident archery deer permit fees.
The deer hunting seasons for 2009-2010 in Illinois include the Archery Deer Season (Oct. 1, 2009-Jan. 17, 2009), the Firearm Deer Season (Nov. 20-22, 2009 and Dec. 3-6, 2009), the Muzzleloader-only Deer Season (Dec. 11-13, 2009), and the expanded seven-day Late Winter Antlerless-only Deer Season (Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 15-17, 2010).
For a list of meat processors handling venison for the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program, check the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us/legislation/isah/.
For further information about Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger, contact Tracy Shafer, ISAH program coordinator, at 217/785-5091 or by e-mail at Tracy.Shafer@Illinois.gov.