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Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry partners with IDFG to battle food insecurity and elk depredation

Posted at 2:03 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 21:55:58-04

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — That Idaho Foodbank says right now, lots of Idahoans are facing food insecurity because of the coronavirus.

Here in the Magic Valley, a group called Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry is partnering with Idaho Fish and Game and local food pantries to help change that.

"Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry is a nonprofit organization that pays for the processing of wild game to be donated to local pantries throughout the state of Idaho," explained Jeff Shroeder, Executive Director of the organization.

Fish and Game has been working for several years to fight elk depredation in the Little Camas area through reducing herd size.

As part of their battle against elk depredation, Fish and Game started a research project with the University of Idaho, hoping to find effective ways to reduce crop damage.

Earlier this year, that project had huge backlash via the internet when photos of butchered elk appeared on Facebook.

As part of the research project, Fish and Game sharpshooters dispatched at night when elk were moving into farmland to feed. The sharpshooters killed 206 elk, mostly in the Magic Valley Region.

"We have employed department sharpshooters to try to implement that component by removing a small number of elk at a time to try to teach those elk not to come into the crops," said State Wildlife Manager Jon Rachel.

What about the meat from those 206 elk? A Facebook post by Idaho for Wildlife made earlier this year initially claimed that because many of the elk were taken in summer, the meat rotted.

"Yeah, that couldn't be further from the truth," said McDonald.

McDonald says those elk were immediately field-dressed, placed in a refrigerated truck. From there, Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry was able to process and distribute that elk meat to nine food banks around the Magic Valley Region.

That meat is now helping those struggling with food insecurity because of the coronavirus.

"20,000 pounds of meat, and then a quarter pound of protein for a meal produces 80,000 meals," Shroeder said. "We had a good supply that we were able to give since March. That is so needed, by so many people. Especially at this time with this coronavirus issue. It reaches more people and people that are really in need for this good quality food too."

Idaho for Wildlife has since removed that claim from their post.

The first draft of that study has been completed, and Fish and Game says it should be made available later this summer.

Fish and Game says they are open to feedback and are more than happy to answer any questions the public may have. Just give them a call at (208) 324-4359.