Donating deer meat to the needy is irresponsible and potentially dangerous
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Donating deer meat to the needy is irresponsible and potentially dangerous

By Ester Shields, Courier News
November 2006

First of all, this meat is not USDA regulated, inspected or certified. The meat that is donated has not been grown and fed in a "controlled" environment like store-bought meat and does not meet stringent guidelines designed to protect the public.

The deer that are killed graze on lawns and plants that have been treated with dangerous chemicals. According to a study by Purdue University in 2004, these pesticides and herbicides are known to cause cancer in certain breeds of dogs. Earlier research conducted by the National Institute of Health found elevated rates of canine lymphoma in dogs exposed to lawn chemicals. Deer that ingest these same poisons are then killed and their meat distributed to the poor. This doesn't sound very appetizing or safe to me.

If this isn't bad enough, scientists at the University of Kentucky released a report in January 2006 about finding infectious prions in deer meat. It had been thought to be only in nervous-system tissue. The infected prions are what cause Chronic Wasting Disease, (CWD) a fatal form of brain degeneration. Like mad cow disease, and the human form of the disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob, they are all caused by aberrant prion proteins. Cooking the meat does not eliminate the risk of contracting CWD.

Even though there haven't been any reported cases of CWD in New Jersey as of yet, this does not mean that there aren't any deer with CWD in the state. New York has reported cases with captive white-tail deer, but recently a wild deer in Oneida County was discovered with CWD according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Affected deer from New York can find their way across state lines. How long before New Jersey will admit to or report finding the disease.

Other diseases in deer which makes eating their flesh an unsavory proposition are, Bovine Tuberculosis and Hemorrhagic disease. In some states, metal cadmium has been found in organs of deer, which is considered a heavy metal and poisonous. Deer in North America have been known to act as intermediate hosts and to have suffered clinical effects of toxoplasmosis. Not to mention numerous parasites and organisms that live in deer.

NORWESCAP is an agency that runs charities that feed the poor. They can't get their appropriated funds from the state unless they take the deer meat. Soup kitchens and welfare mothers don't have a choice. In reality, many charities don't want the deer meat and it is thrown in the garbage. As one legislator said, "the hunters just want the antlers; why not give the deer to the poor?" Is this to suggest we give the deer meat to the poor, assuming they'll eat anything?

It's already an unfortunate situation for the local needy that they rely on hand-outs and donations to survive. Must they be given food that could make them fatally ill as well? 

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