A state legislator wants to save a program that helps control Iowa’s deer population while also feeding hungry people. Hunters donate venison to food banks, but a surcharge on hunting licenses isn’t raising enough money to cover the cost of processing the meat. It has put the HUSH or "Help Us Stop Hunger" program in jeopardy.
Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, wants a surcharge on car liability insurance policies to cover the shortfall. Dearden says insurance companies benefit when hunters get more deer off the roads.
One deer accident that hurts two or three people would cost insurance companies several hundred-thousand dollars, Dearden says, "Just saving one accident would more than pay for it."
So far, officials have used $100,000 from a fish and wildlife trust fund to keep the program going. Dearden says a yearly contribution from the Farm Bureau was discontinued.
"The motorists are complaining the most, the motorists and the insurance companies, that there are too many deer on the highway," Dearden says.
By the hunters donating these deer, he says harvesting cuts down on the number of accidents and the number of deer on the highways. Dearden’s bill would have levied a 25-cent surcharge on policies, but insurance companies lined up to oppose it.
The senator says he doesn’t want to raise hunting fees since, he says, hunters don’t get anything from the program except the good feeling of helping the needy. Dearden’s not likely to push the bill next year since the governor has made clear he opposes raising taxes.