South Dakota Deer Harvest Ends, Over 3 Tons of Meat Donated to Feed the Hungry

by Amy Myers

While some states hold deer culls, South Dakota hosts an annual, city-led deer harvest that helps control their wildlife populations while also feeding the hungry.

The Rapid City deer harvest first began back in the 90s. Since then the area has used a yearly survey to determine how many deer they need to eliminate to ensure a healthier population and a more stable ecosystem. According to Scott Anderson, Rapid City’s Parks Division Manager, the harvest also helps reduce the number of deer killed by vehicles.

This time, the survey demonstrated that South Dakota deer numbers fell in line with previous years. So, the city aimed to harvest 250 deer. But don’t think that just anyone could come out to the middle of the city with their rifles in tow.

“Our main goal is safety too,” explained Anderson, according to Black Hills Fox. “You know, shooting guns in town is kind of a risky deal. So, we make sure that the properties we have the bait sites on have a good backdrop. A good enough area where there’s no houses behind where the bait site is.”

Additionally, the city takes pride in the fact that they have not received any complaints regarding the safety of the operation. For them, this indicates minimal issues with how they conduct the harvest.

South Dakota Deer Harvest Benefits Nonprofit Organization That Feeds the Hungry

Though the goal was to harvest 250 deer, the city-led operation fell short by 10 deer this year. The city attributed this to the fact that the deer tend to hunker down during cold weather. Rapid City officials believe that the bait stations were in areas in which the deer had abundant supplies of naturally occurring food, so they don’t feel the need to visit these stations.

Not only does South Dakota’s deer harvest help to ensure healthier wildlife populations, but it will also benefit the hungry in the area. This year, the meat from the harvest will go to the organization, Feeding South Dakota, which provides “temporary food assistance to approximately 21,000 hungry individuals and families.” Their vision is to create a “hunger-free South Dakota where everyone in need has access to nutritious food because freedom from hunger and good nutrition are critical to the future economic, social, and emotional health of our communities.”

The result of the latest South Dakota deer harvest was over 6,000 pounds of meat.

”This year we did very well as far as the meat goes. A little over three tons of grounds meat for Feeding South Dakota,” Anderson shared.

Of course, to ensure safety, Rapid City tested each deer before delivering the meat to Feeding South America. If they’re healthy, they help feed the hungry. If not, the city discards the carcass.