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RALEIGH, N.C. (Oct. 7) - The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is helping hunters to put food on tables other than their own.

A newly forged partnership with N.C. Hunters for the Hungry calls for the Wildlife Commission to provide the nonprofit organization with up to $30,000 annually to process donated deer meat. Last year N.C. Hunters for the Hungry provided more than 44,000 pounds of ground venison to food banks and shelters across North Carolina.

Besides assisting a worthy cause, the Wildlife Commission is contributing to its own resource conservation goals. Hunting has proven to be the surest and most cost-effective method for managing white-tailed deer populations. But hunters who have exceeded their "freezer limit" have little incentive to take more deer, said Dr. David Cobb, chief of wildlife management for the Commission.

"Hunters for the Hungry gives our hunters a place to donate harvested white-tailed deer," Cobb said. "This helps in the management of our white-tailed deer resource across the state."

The 19-member Wildlife Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a formal, five-year agreement with N.C. Hunters for the Hungry. The memorandum stipulates that all Commission funding must go directly toward processing the deer meat, and not for administration or other expenses.

"This certainly will invigorate our program," said Gerald Thornton, a board member of N.C. Hunters for the Hungry. "The Commission's support will go a long way to helping us get more processors, as well as more hunters and more sponsors."

Despite relying mostly on donors, volunteers and word of mouth, the group in its 12 years of existence has donated more than 234,000 pounds, or 117 tons, of deer meat to hunger-relief organizations statewide - from community food banks and Salvation Army chapters to church pantries and homeless shelters.

"That's a lot of hamburgers, a lot of deer burgers, a lot of stews and chilies - a lot of hungry mouths being fed," Thornton said. "That's the bottom line, to get food out to the hungry."

For more information about N.C. Hunters for the Hungry, log onto www.dixiedeerclassic.org.
 
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