MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – An archery hunt for deer in a West Virginia town that began several years ago has become a lifeline for local pantries and community kitchens .

When hunters first proposed an urban deer hunt in Morgantown a decade ago, the idea was to control the population. Collisions with cars were common, and deer were considered a pest that ate people’s shrubs and flowers, the Dominion Post reported. Some residents were reluctant to let archers hunt in the city, but the program has proven successful. Bow hunters had no accidents hunting over 950 deer and harvesting approximately 9,500 pounds (4,300 kilograms) of terrestrial venison.

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Some of the meat is used by bow hunters while the rest is donated to organizations such as Trinity Episcopal Church, Pantry Plus More, Caritas House and Ronald McDonald House.

Trinity Episcopal serves free lunches Monday through Friday and uses the venison donated about twice a week, chef Jim Chapman said. Donated meat lasts all year round and has become an important way for them to provide high protein meals without having to purchase expensive meat products. Some days the venison turns into meatballs. Other days it could be used to make spaghetti sauce.

“I cannot say enough that we are relying on this first hunt that provides us with so much venison,” Chapman said. “It’s a really wonderful thing that they provide to us.”

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Urban Archery Hunt in Morgantown has a group of about 60 volunteers. It takes place from the first Saturday of September to December 31, as well as the last two weeks of January. All volunteers must be experienced archery hunters and complete the National Bowhunter Education Foundation course, as well as an Archery Proficiency Test.

“We care so much about safety (and) we care so much about doing things the right way,” said Paul Crumrine, Volunteer Hunt Coordinator. “And our results speak for themselves.”

Crumrine said they hope to expand the program and bring its benefits to surrounding communities.

“We’re looking at Westover, and Granville would be nice,” Crumrine said. “We just see a lot of deer in the areas where they are not hunted.”

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