Changes in store for Sportsmen Against Hunger deer donation program

Ron Fowler
South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger

The Sportsmen Against Hunger deer donation program will change in 2020 in that all deer and elk taken west of the Missouri River or out-of-state for donation in South Dakota must be tested for chronic wasting disease before they can be processed.

Even though public health officials have found no link between chronic wasting disease and any neurological disease in humans, the Sportsmen Against Hunger Board of Directors still wants to start taking steps to minimize risk of human exposure to chronic wasting disease by testing donated deer and elk coming from out-of-state or the area of South Dakota where chronic wasting disease is known to occur. The ultimate goal of Sportsmen Against Hunger is to prevent all processed, donated meat going to food pantries from coming from harvested deer or elk testing positive for chronic wasting disease.

To accomplish the chronic wasting disease testing of donated deer and elk harvested west of the Missouri River or out of state, additional cooperation and effort is being asked of hunters and game processors. Details on the chronic wasting disease testing procedure can be found on the Sportsmen Against Hunger website For hunters who want to collect tissue samples from their own deer or elk for chronic wasting disease testing, testing kits may be obtained, ideally ahead of time, from any Department of Game, Fish and Parks regional or district office.

Donation of deer taken east of the Missouri River in South Dakota during any hunting season may be donated at any participating Sportsmen Against Hunger game processor without testing. Location of participating game processors is given on the Sportsmen Against Hunger website. Processing certificates worth $75 for each donated antlerless deer and $65 for each donated doe/fawn antelope will be available to pay for most or all of the processing cost regardless of where the animals are taken in the state.

In 2019, families in need received 33,201 pounds of donated, processed game meat from Sportsmen Against Hunger through Feeding South Dakota and its associated food pantries across the state. This translates into 132,800 meals of meat for poverty-level families. This meat came primarily from 284 thoughtful hunters donating 197 antlerless deer, 132 buck deer, five doe/fawn antelope, two buck antelope, 27 out-of-state deer and four out-of-state antelope through 39 game processors. Meat also came from salvage processing, paid for at least in part by Sportsmen Against Hunger, of 245 deer from the Rapid City deer reduction program, 63 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program and 21 elk from the Wind Cave National Park elk culling program. In addition, 1,059 pheasants, 793 Canada geese and 341 walleye were donated.

Last but not least, hunters need to be recognized for donating funds to Sportsmen Against Hunger through the Department of Game, Fish and Parks hunting license application checkoff system. In recent years these funds have helped SAH to cover the cost of the Processing Certificate Program. The donated funds have also been used towards costs of salvage processing of confiscated game, deer taken in city deer reduction programs, etc. Special credit goes to hunters who paid the full or reduced cost of processing other donated game such as buck deer, buck antelope and pheasants.