Waukesha ,Wis. ––Hunters interested in donating deer harvested in the southeast Wisconsin Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ) have that option, thanks to area meat processors. Deer meat that tests negative for chronic wasting disease (CWD) will be donated to a food pantry.

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

  • Chad’s Taxidermy, 1102 Larson Rd. in Clinton

  • Bigfoot Beach State Park, 1452 Wells St. in Lake Geneva

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.

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

According to the Department of Natural Resources, the goal in the DEZ is to reduce the deer density to below five deer per square mile. Biologists believe that by dropping the herd to this low level it will be possible to eradicate CWD from the wild deer herd. Some hunters have been hesitant to shoot more deer than needed for 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 area supervisor Tami Ryan.

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 that concentrates in certain tissues such as brain, spinal cord, lymph nodes and spleen.

Meat processors 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. 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