COVID-19 has impacted millions of people in a myriad of ways. But the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) wants to help by providing free big game meat to those “experiencing economic difficulties,” the agency says.
While Utah’s program has been in place for decades, many are unaware that they can sign up to receive meat from animals – like deer and elk – that are poached or euthanized to decrease agricultural conflicts. Because these incidences occur on private land, hunters are usually prohibited from legally harvesting problem animals, leaving that to UDWR officials who then donate the meat to this program.
“We don’t want to see this valuable food resource go to waste, so we donate the meat from these animals to locals who may be in need,” said UDWR Wildlife Coordinator Chad Wilson. “Because COVID-19 has impacted so many Utahns economically, we wanted to make sure the public was aware of this program and can use it, if needed. When it is necessary for us to euthanize wildlife, it is important that we don't let the meat go to waste. We are glad that this valuable resource can benefit Utahns and their families who may be struggling during these difficult times.”
Prior to donating the meat to the program, UDWR staff ensure that the animal meets proper conditions and has been carefully field dressed, according to the agency. Those who sign up for the program are required to process the meat or find a butcher to do it for them. Also, because “removal efforts” usually occur at night and are on a first-come, first served basis, those who sign up should be able to pick up the field dressed animal on “short notice.”
To sign up for the program, click HERE.
Interested citizens can also sign up at their local city hall for donated meat if a city participates in an urban deer cull. Cities currently involved in Utah’s urban deer program include Centerville, Draper, Herriman, Highland, Hyde Park, Lindon, Manti, Mapleton, Mendon, North Logan, Pleasant Grove, Provo and Springville.