Thanks to a new law, Montana hunters who legally harvest big game can now donate the meat to local food banks without any additional costs for meat processing. For the first time since the law was passed in 2013, hunters had the option of donating $1 or more to Hunters Against Hunger at the time they purchased 2014 big-game licenses. About $70,000 has been donated, so far, according to the Independent Record. The funds are being used to offset the cost of butchering and distributing wild game meat to food banks this season.
In previous years, the burden of processing fees was on hunters who chose to donate or the food banks themselves. Now, hunters can simply drop off deer, elk, bear, bison, or antelope to one of the 15 participating processors in the state. Roadkill cannot be donated. A representative from the Helena area’s designated processor, Tizer Meats, said a few deer from archery season, a bear, and three antelope have already been donated there.
“It’s good, high-quality protein, which is our highest cost and a lot of times hard for local providers to purchase,” said Jeff Gutierrez of the Montana Food Bank Network, the group responsible for distributing donated meat to the state’s homeless and hungry. “It’s a self-sustaining program that honors Montana’s hunting heritage while at the same time helping people in need. Hunters have been really, really supportive.”