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St. Croix County will accept gun season deer for food pantries

HUDSON - Officials in St. Croix County announced they now will accept deer taken during any of Wisconsin's gun seasons as part of the statewide Deer Donation Program in which hunters help to feed the needy.

Earlier, because of concerns stemming from reports of lead being found in some samples of venison, the county had announced only archery killed deer would be accepted. County officials who help manage the program feel issues surrounding donations have been resolved.

"I'm seeing this program in St. Croix County working just as it has in the past," said Robert Heise, director of the county's land and water conservation office.

"We've had a really successful program here. Our hunters like to get out there and hunt, but they don't always need all the deer they can harvest and they won't let a deer go to waste."

Under the program, hunters can take a field dressed and registered deer to any participating meat processor. There is no charge to the hunter. A large network of volunteers including sports groups, church groups, civic organizations and food pantry staff work together to distribute the meat from the processor to the food pantries.

There are four participating processors in St. Croix County: Deer's Food Locker in Deer Park, Glenwood City Lockers in Glenwood City, Mike's Deer Cutting in Glenwood City and Powers Wild Game in New Richmond.

The statewide list of participating processors can be found on line at

Since the fall hunting season of 2000, hunters have donated more than 63,200 deer and have provided more than 2.8 million pounds of ground venison to needy families.

Deer harvested with lead bullets have been shown to potentially have tiny lead particles or fragments remaining in the processed meat. These are often too small to be seen and can disperse far from the wound channel.

Although lead in venison does not rival lead paint in older homes as a health risk for the public, the risk is not low enough to ignore. Children under 6 years and pregnant women are at the greatest risk from lead exposure.

The amount of lead found in a small percentage of venison samples suggests that long term effects of lead consumption could occur in people who regularly eat venison shot with lead ammunition.

However, there is currently no known evidence linking human consumption of venison to lead poisoning.

These suggestions can reduce exposure to lead in venison:

  • Consider alternative non-lead ammunition such as copper or other high weight-retention bullets, such as bonded bullets.
  • Practice marksmanship and hunting skills to get closer, making cleaner, lethal shots away from major muscle areas. Aim for the neck or the vitals behind the shoulder. Don't shoot at running deer.
  • Avoid consuming internal organs, as they can contain extra lead from heart-lung shots.
  • Request your meat processor to not use deer meat with excessive shot damage. If you process your own venison, trim a generous distance away from the wound channel and discard any meat that is bruised, discolored or contains hair, dirt, bone fragments or grass. Do not use deer with excessive shot damage.
  • If you plan on donating venison to a venison donation program, please consider using non-toxic shot for those purposes as well.