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Bill to use deer hit by cars as food rejected

HARTFORD -- The state won't set aside money to process deer hit by cars and killed by hunters for use by soup kitchens, at least not this year.

Advocates say the idea was to allow hunters to help the needy. The bill would have allocated $30,000 to process deer killed by both hunters and cars for distribution to soup kitchens and other agencies. Processing costs about $70 for an average-sized deer.

But Kenneth Dartley of Wilton, who helped draft the bill, said concerns about feeding people "roadkill" overshadowed its intent. The sponsor, Representative Antoinette Boucher, was recently notified that the environment committee will not hear testimony about it this legislative session. She said it is likely the bill will be resubmitted after it is rewritten to include only meat from hunted deer.

Larry Grant, who lives in New Haven and works in Guilford, is on the Guilford Police Department's rotating list of about 20 people to call if someone hits a deer. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, more than 18,000 deer are killed on Connecticut roads each year. And advocates say deer picked up fresh from the road are no different from those killed by hunters.

"It's a great resource," Grant said. " 'Roadkill' is a designation by someone who's ignorant."

Under state law, drivers can take home deer, bears, and moose that they hit, as long as they call police and get a receipt. If drivers don't want the deer, many departments have lists of people who will take them.

Friends of Animals, an animal rights group, opposed Boucher's bill. "There's no shortage of food here in Connecticut," said President Priscilla Feral. "I don't think deer are for human consumption."

But Nancy Carrington, executive director of the Connecticut Food Bank, said the bill would have been helpful because meat is always in demand at food banks.

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