COLUMBIA – Hunters donated less venison through Share The Harvest in 2013 than the year before, consistent with a decline in deer harvest totals overall, said Jodean Foster, protection technician for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
A total of 4,487 participants donated 227,358 pounds of deer meat through the program in 2013, she said.
The numbers are consistent with the decline in deer harvest totals in 2013. Harvest totals decreased 30 percent, and donations decreased about 29 percent, she said.
During November, the height of hunting season, 157,266 deer were killed in 2013, compared to 204,662 in 2012, said Tom Strother, protection regional supervisor with the department.
Share the Harvest allows hunters to donate extra venison to those in need. Participating processing plants prepare the meat before it's taken to local food pantries for distribution. The plants offer reduced processing fees for hunters who donate meat, according to the program's webpage.
Meat processors also noticed fewer donations than usual.
"We're down about thirty head," Bill Crane, owner of Crane's Meat Processing in Ashland, said in January. Crane's Meat Processing usually processes between 100 and 110 deer for Share The Harvest.
Once the venison is processed, it is sent to organizations to distribute to those in need.
Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.