FITCHBURG – Once again, hunters interested in donating deer harvested in the chronic wasting disease (CWD) western Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ) of southwest Wisconsin to food pantries have that option thanks to many area meat processors.

Hunters can take their DEZ-harvested deer for donation to cooperating meat processors from Sept. 17, 2005 through March 31, 2006. Deer harvested in the DEZ can be registered and donated at any of the following meat processors:

  • Black Earth – Black Earth Meats, 1345 Mill St.
  • Blue Mounds – Dick’s Quality Meats, 10345 CTH ID
  • New Glarus – Hoesly Meats, 219 Industrial Dr.
  • Lodi – Lodi Sausage Co. & Meat Market, 150 S. Main St.

The following butchers can also accept deer harvested in the DEZ, but the deer must first be registered within the DEZ before being transported to these meat processors:

  • Cottage Grove – Stoddard’s Country Grove Market, 205 E. Cottage Grove Rd.
  • Juda – Rackow Family Sausage, N1943 Schindler Rd.
  • Belmont – Belmont Fresh Meats, 115 S. Mound Ave.
  • Fennimore – Hidden Valley Butcher Shop, 5308 STH 18
  • Albany – County E Locker, N6833 CTH E

Deer eligible for this food pantry program must be harvested in the DEZ and field-dressed with cape still attached. Deer bound for donation should be kept cool in a shaded location and donated soon after harvest. A bag of ice placed in the chest cavity will help to preserve the condition of the meat.

Deer harvested from the DEZ may also be donated at any of four DNR staffed registration/collection stations in the DEZ. The four stations are located at Eagle Mart Stop-N-Go, 8029 STH 151, Barneveld, 608-225-6198; Norslien’s Wood Works, 4738 STH 78, Black Earth, 608-225-6178; Countryside Lanes, 1255 CTH F, Hollandale, 608-225-7391; and Franklin Town Hall, 550 Main St. (CTH B), Plain, 608-225-2381.

All DEZ deer slated for the donation program are tested for CWD and only venison that test negative for CWD will be accepted.

DNR’s goal in the DEZ is to reduce the deer density down to below five deer per square mile. Biologists believe that by dropping the herd down to this low level, it will be possible to eradicate CWD from the wild deer herd. But some hunters have been hesitant to shoot more deer than needed by themselves, family and friends.

“We hope that by providing DEZ hunters with the opportunity to donate deer, it will serve as an incentive to keep them out in the woods hunting deer throughout this fall and winter,” explained DNR wildlife biologist Alan Crossley.

CWD is a fatal disease that affects the nervous system of elk and deer. It has never been known to affect any other animal species under natural conditions and has never been shown to cause illness in humans. The disease is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion which concentrates in certain tissues such as brain, spinal cord, lymph nodes and spleen.

Meat processors who will be participating in the venison donation program will use boned-out meat from which fat, connective tissue, and nerve tissue have been removed. The tissues where prions concentrate are not included in processed venison through this butchering method.

The program, which provides venison donated by hunters to public food pantries, is administered by DNR in cooperation with the Food Safety Division of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Department of Health and Family Services.

Flyers providing basic information about CWD and venison will be offered at each participating food pantry to ensure that consumers can make an informed choice regarding accepting venison from this program.

Deer harvested from the much larger CWD Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ) are not eligible for donation to the DEZ food pantry program. Many counties, though, are enrolled in the statewide deer donation program and have enlisted the services of area meat processors to accept and process HRZ or outstate donations.

The aforementioned meat processors in Albany, Belmont, Fennimore, Juda, Lodi and New Glarus participate in both donation programs and are able to accept deer harvested from anywhere in the state. Dane and Iowa County meat processors do not participate because their Land Conservation Committees elected not to enroll their counties in the statewide program. For a complete list of butchers participating in the statewide deer donation program please visit: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wildlife/Damage/donation/dropoff.htm