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Taking a gander: Sportsmen Against Hunger accepting Canada goose in early season

FNS Photo by Sam Cook Sportsmen Against Hunger are accepting Canada goose meat from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14.

North Dakota hunters helping out families in need is the simplest explanation for Sportsmen Against Hunger.

The program has helped countless families in the state.

SAH is about to help a little bit more. The program is now accepting Canada goose meat in the early season from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14.

"When you think about with the cost of food to be able to go to the food pantry and receive meat, our clients have definitely told us how thankful they are," said Michelle Orton, client services director at Community Action Partnership in Dickinson.

The main source of meat SAH gives out is deer. However in the last couple of years, the program has given out elk due to the elk reduction in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Randy Kreil, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife chief, said it's always beneficial for everybody to help whenever possible.

"We started the program about four or five years ago when the deer populations were really high and people had extra opportunities to harvest deer," Kreil said. "They felt it would be nice to donate it to the hungry. It was kind of an awakening for us that there is such a demand."

In donating goose to the various processors around the state, the hunters must remove the breast meat from the birds before processors can accept them.

Since goose carcasses or feather aren't allowed inside processors establishments, every hunter must ensure proper disposal and clean-up of carcasses and feathers.

"We have a number of locations across the state that will handle goose donations," said Ann Pollert, Executive Director of North Dakota's Community Action Partnership, which sponsors SAH as part of its effort to serve low-income families across the state, in a press release. "We found out last year that goose meat is very popular with our clients, so we're hoping hunters will again be willing to share some of their birds."

The thought of being able to donate more meat -- whether it is upland game birds, waterfowl, big game or fish -- isn't the plan right now, but Game and Fish, along with SAH, will adapt to each situation.

"We would focus on populations where there was an overabundance and more opportunity than what would meet people's demand," Kreil said.

Orton said she couldn't be happier with the amount of support from hunters donating meat to families in need.

"Sportsmen Against Hunger is a great program, because what it does is we are able to provide meat to low-income individuals through the food pantry," Orton said. "We have a lot of hunters in the area that would like to donate whatever they get. We have processors that work with us."

Participating processors are M&M Sausage & Meats in Bismarck, K and E Meats in Cando, Goldade's Processing in Devils Lake, Hickory Hut in Langdon, Webers Meats in Reynolds, Randys Backyard Smokehouse in Park River, Casselton Cold Storage in Casselton, Reister Meats in Streeter and Edgeley Meat Processing Plant in Edgeley. The two sponsors are S and E Meats and Specialties in Granville and Maple Valley Locker in Enderlin.