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TREMPEALEAU COUNTY, Wis. — A Wisconsin community has found an interesting way to feed the hungry, WEAU reports.

The program encourages drivers who have hit a deer on the roadway to report the accident so the deer can be used for food and not go to waste.

“The official program started about four years ago….we call it the Helping the Hungry Program,” said Sheriff Brett Semingson.

It’s a common site to see dead dear lying alongside the road in Wisconsin.

“Trempealeau County. Annually we receive calls of 300-400 car deer accidents,” Sheriff Semingson said. “A couple years ago the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources quit contracting with counties to remove dead deer off the roadways so at that time the highway departments were just asked to pull the animals into the ditch and rot. Of course, if you ever drive by an area, there’s a stench”

He says the helping the hungry program serves two purposes.

“Number one: we can assist those that are hungry that can use the animal. Plus we’re doing what we can to try to keep our roads a little cleaner,” Sheriff Semingson said. “When a deer is struck by a car and we can confirm that it is a freshly killed animal, we have a list of people established…a call list…we start with the closest person and see if they’re interested in taking that deer for their needs”

The idea for the program came from a dispatch sergeant who at the time, felt there was a better way to handle deer after they’re hit on roads.

“Rather than letting them lay and rot…she felt that there was enough need for food in this county,” Sheriff Semingson said.

The community response has been positive and many local families have benefited from the program.

“Probably about 50 or more animals a year are struck and preservable that we make calls on,” Sheriff Semingson said.

The program does not run in the summer months because the heat makes it difficult to preserve the deer after it’s hit.