The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Conservation Federation of Missouri are encouraging deer hunters around the state to share their harvests through the state's Share the Harvest program.
Administered by MDC and CFM, Share the Harvest coordinates the efforts of deer hunters, participating meat processors, local supporting organizations and statewide sponsors to help feed hungry Missourians, according to an MDC news release.
Deer hunters donate their extra venison — from several pounds to whole deer — to participating meat processors that grind and package the meat. The packaged venison is given to food banks and food pantries for distribution to Missourians who need food assistance.
Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by local sponsors, along with statewide sponsors that include MDC, CFM, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA Inc., Missouri Food Banks Association and United Bowhunters of Missouri
Hunters should contact individual processors to determine funds available. The cost of processing is the hunter's responsibility when funds to help cover the full cost of processing are not available.
Nearly 4,300 Missouri deer hunters donated more than 198,000 pounds of venison to the program last deer season, according to the MDC news release. Since the program started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 3.6 million pounds of venison to help feed Missourians in need.
Find participating processors in MDC's "2017 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information" booklet at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-share-harvest, or by calling MDC at 573-751-4115 or CFM at 573-634-2322.
Share the Harvest in CWD counties
Deer donated to Share the Harvest that were harvested in the seven Missouri counties where chronic wasting disease has been found will be tested for the deer disease. Deer that test positive for CWD will not be used and will be properly disposed of. The seven counties are Adair, Cole, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon and St. Clair.
CWD is a deadly illness for white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, called cervids. MDC is working with conservation partners to find cases and limit the spread of CWD. Based on CWD testing MDC has conducted, the disease appears to be relatively rare in the state at this time with only 42 cases found in seven counties out of more than 76,000 deer tested around the state.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been no documented cases of CWD in humans. As a safeguard, the CDC recommends hunters strongly consider having their harvested deer tested for CWD before eating the meat if the animal was harvested from an area where CWD has been found. The CDC also recommends not consuming an animal that tests positive for the disease. For more information on CWD, visit mdc.mo.gov/cwd.