Wisconsin DNR: Deer Donations Help Wisconsinites In Need

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages hunters to donate Wisconsin-harvested deer to the department’s Deer Donation Program to help stock food pantries this holiday season and support residents in need throughout the state.

Since the program began in 2000, hunters have donated over 94,000 deer, totaling more than 3.8 million pounds of venison distributed to Wisconsin food pantries.

Through the Deer Donation Program, the DNR works with partnering meat processors to distribute thousands of pounds of donated venison to Wisconsin food pantries.

“Whether by harvesting an extra deer or donating the only deer they shoot, Wisconsin hunters have the chance to support their communities during the holiday season,” said Sarah Wyrick, DNR Wildlife Damage Program Assistant. “We thank all deer hunters, meat processing and nonprofit partners who help make this program a success for those in need.”

Those looking to support the Deer Donation Program can also do so through a monetary donation when purchasing a hunting or fishing license or a Wisconsin State Park pass.

Hunters interested in donating a Wisconsin-harvested deer to the DNR’s Deer Donation Program can follow these steps:

1. Field dress your deer. Handle the carcass with care.

2. Register your deer through Game Reg. Make a note of your registration confirmation number and keep it on hand when dropping off your deer.

3. Test your deer for CWD if harvested from a CWD-affected county that requires testing before taking the deer to a processor. To find a CWD sampling location near you to submit samples from Wisconsin-harvested deer free of charge, visit the DNR’s “Sampling For Chronic Wasting Disease” webpage. Test results are usually available from the DNR within two weeks.

4. Call ahead! Contact one of the participating processors before dropping off your deer to make sure they have space to accept it. More processors may be added later in the season, so check back if you don’t see one currently in your area.  If donating a Wisconsin-harvested deer that is being tested for CWD, inform the processor at the time of the donation and provide your CWD barcode number. The processor will hold onto the donated deer until results are known and before distributing to an area nonprofit. 

5. Drop off your deer at a participating processor.

Visit the DNR’s Deer Donation Program webpage to learn more.