MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The numbers are in for this year's deer donation program in Wisconsin.
The Department of Natural Resources says 120 butcher shops in 53 counties are signed up to accept deer that hunters donate to food pantries.
Program coordinator Laurie Fike says the numbers are down slightly from a year ago when 126 processors in 54 counties participated. They ground up 9,200 donated deer into 414,000 pounds of packaged venison.
Fike says that since the program was launched in 2000 as an incentive for hunters to shoot more deer from the overpopulated herd, about 63,000 deer have been donated to help feed hungry families.
Wisconsin's nine-day gun season opens next Saturday. The DNR estimates up to 1.7 million deer roam the fields and woods.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)