Needy families received more than 282,000 pounds of venison this year through a program involving the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Food Bank of Iowa. Stacey Olson, with the D.N.R., is coordinator of the Help Us Stop Hunger – or HUSH – program. She says Iowa hunters donated 6,320 deer to the effort during the 2010-11 deer season.
That’s down from last year’s donations of nearly 8,000 deer. “That was anticipated as the deer population numbers are declining. We are reaching our herd management goals in Iowa,” Olson said. A one dollar fee on all deer licenses is collected by the D.N.R. to cover processing costs at meat lockers around the state. Olson expects the downward trend in deer donations will continue in the years to come.
“We do anticipate numbers to HUSH will decline slightly in the next year or two and then we’ll probably even out,” Olson said. The HUSH program in Iowa is now eight year old. Olson says it’s become a model program for other states.
“I’ve talked to many different people throughout the United States and in Canada who would like to do something similar in their area,” Olson said.