Hunters should be able to donate game meat, says conservation group

"I hope that this program can become a reality in the very short future."

'I hope that this program can become a reality in the very short future,' says Barry Fordham

Barry Fordham is head of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Hunters and Anglers Conservation Group. (CBC)

People who need to use food banks should be able to get healthy proteins and meats, and that's a need that could be met if hunters were allowed to donate their game meat, says Barry Fordham.

Fordham is the head of the Newfoundland Association of Hunters and Anglers Conservation Group, and wants to introduce the Hunters Feeding the Hungry program to this province.

For years, Fordham has been speaking with government officials about how to change the province's laws to allow for hunters to donate game meat to local food banks.

"The response mostly is positive and it just seems to me it's the unwillingness of the government to want to enact this law, to make this program a reality," Fordham said on CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Fordham heard about the Hunters Feeding the Hungry program in a magazine article from a U.S. publication and, after doing some research, realized it's active in a number of Canadian provinces, too.

The donated meat is healthy, protein-rich food, Fordham says, which isn't often on offer at food banks. (CBC News)

"It's a natural organic meat, it's free out in the wild, it's healthy, it's good for you, and it seems to be that the food banks … are in low supply of good, nutritious protein-filled meals," he said.

"I thought to myself, well why don't myself and my daughter try to start the same thing here in Newfoundland and Labrador?"

But it's not a straight-forward goal.

'Why can't it be done here?'

Fordham said the main concern is liability: what would happen if someone got sick from eating donated game?

The solution lies with the government covering this kind of donation in its legislation, Fordham said, adding that in Nova Scotia, it's covered under the Good Samaritan Act.

It's in most of the states, so if it could be done there, why can't it be done here?- Barry Fordham

In N.L., raw meat can't go through a third-party vendor before getting to a consumer. In other places, Fordham said the donated meat is brought to a government-approved producer and they can determine whether to accept it and process it.

"In Nova Scotia, the closest chapter to us, I think they approximately have around … 3,500 kilograms of venison already donated, and it's very interesting to note that the program has been expanded to youth hunters," said Fordham.

"The program is up and running in Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions and provinces in Canada, it's in most of the states, so if it could be done there, why can't it be done here?"

Barry Fordham has spoken with ministers since 2012, trying to get the Hunters Feeding the Hungry Program introduced in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Plenty of hunters seem willing to participate, Fordham said, adding that it would be slow getting the program started, but he's heard plenty of positive feedback.

"Not everyone's going to want to do it, but there is very positive feedback and I look forward to working with the outfitters association as well because there is quite a potential there for larger amounts of meat to be donated."

Fordham is hoping to soon meet with Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources Gerry Byrne to have a further discussion about what it would take to make the Hunters Feeding the Hungry program a reality here.

"I hope that this program can become a reality in the very short future."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador