Sent on Jan 5, 2004 to the St. Joseph News-Press (MO)
An article published on January 1, reported that resource
scientist Lonnie Hansen said deer hunters donate about forty-tons of venison
to food banks and charities. Unfortunately, what Mr. Hansen and others may
see as a good deed may in fact be hurting the very people they intend to
Since many hunters do not eat the animals they kill, they
try to justify their violent acts by donating dead deer "to the needy."
What is troubling is that this meat is not inspected by
the USDA and there are no assurances that the meat is fit for human
When hunters in New York State tried to pass a bill
absolving them of liability if the meat donated was unhealthy, the state
Departments of Health, Social Services, and Agriculture and Markets spoke
out against it.
The latter wrote in part: "We cannot, and should not,
engage in selective enforcement of the law or establish separate standards
of food safety. The poor and homeless are entitled to receive the same level
of health protections from the government as those more fortunate. the
general public should not be exposed unwittingly to the potential food
safety risks of consuming wild game which are "processed" in this fashion."
When the Department Of Agriculture and Markets did make an
unprecedented exception to their normal policy and inspected deer meat from
a hunt in Rochester, they concluded: "All of the venison which was salvaged
from the 'bait and shoot' operation in Rochester was found to be unfit for
human consumption. We have seized (the meat) and will oversee its
When several years ago we called food banks, we were
surprised to find that most hadn't received donations all. One food charity
that had gotten a donation said it was a very small amount, and people
complained about the taste and odor of the meat.
While hunters try to change their image from that of
opportunistic killers of harmless animals to benevolent champions of the
needy, the truth remains that their feeble attempt at public deception does
very little good, and may indeed do a great deal of harm.
Joe Miele, Vice President
Wildlife Watch, Inc.
New Paltz, NY 12561