Wisconsin's Deer Donation Program
Hunters can help Wisconsinites in need by donating deer harvested in Wisconsin through the DNR’s deer donation program.
Venison from donated deer is processed and distributed to food pantries across the state. Since the program began in 2000, hunters have donated over 94,000 deer which were processed into over 3.8 million pounds of ground venison.
Wisconsin has a network of venison donation partners including county land and water conservation departments, food pantries, charitable organizations, Hunt for the Hungry, USDA - Wildlife Services and participating processors who all help implement and administer the program.
HOW TO DONATE YOUR WISCONSIN DEER
Hunters can donate any deer harvested legally in Wisconsin. Deer harvested outside Wisconsin cannot be donated. Deer harvested in a listed county affected by chronic wasting disease (CWD) must be tested for CWD prior to or at the time of donation (see below).
Hunters, you can donate your legally-harvested Wisconsin deer to help feed needy people throughout the state by taking four simple steps:
- Field dress your deer. Please handle the carcass as if it were destined for your own table. A couple of bags of ice placed in the cavity will help preserve the carcass in warm weather.
- Register your deer. Make a note of your registration confirmation number, which you’ll need later. Arrange for CWD testing if your deer was harvested from one of the CWD-affected counties that require testing.
- 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.
- Drop off your deer at a participating processor.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN DROPPING OFF YOUR DEER
Hunters can donate the entire deer free of charge and can retain the head and/or antlers for mounting if desired.
When dropping your deer off at a processor, you will be asked to complete the log sheet indicating your desire to donate the deer. We'll do the rest. The donated deer will be processed and the venison will be distributed to charitable organizations to help feed Wisconsin's needy.
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE AFFECTED COUNTIES
Deer that are harvested in any CWD-affected county listed below must be tested for CWD either prior to or at the time of donation. The processed venison will be held by the processor until results are known.
- All adult deer harvested in Dodge, Dunn, Green Lake, Kenosha, Lincoln, Marathon, Marquette, Milwaukee, Oneida, Portage, Racine, Shawano, Sheboygan, Washington and Wood counties are required to be tested for CWD and;
- All adult deer and fawns harvested in Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Eau Claire, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Lafayette, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Vernon, Walworth, and Waukesha counties are required to be tested for CWD.
DEER DONATION PARTNERS PROGRAM
The DNR is partnering with individuals and organizations to provide convenient deer donation drop-off locations through the Deer Donation Partners Program. Partners will donate the cost of a refrigerated trailer to collect and transport donated deer to participating processors. Check out the participating processor list under “How to Donate Your Wisconsin Deer” to see if there are any deer drop off sites listed in your county! For more information on this new program, contact Sarah Wyrick, assistant wildlife damage specialist.
MAKE A FINANCIAL DONATION TO THE DEER DONATION PROGRAM
Hunters and the public can voluntarily donate $1 or more to the Deer Donation Program to help cover meat processing fees. You can make a donation at any Wisconsin Hunting License sales location or online through your Go Wild account.
Consider switching to non-toxic ammunition as even a very small amount of lead in a deer carcass may be toxic to humans and wildlife. Visit the safely eating wild game page for recommendations on reducing the risk of lead in venison.