October 2, 2003 98-R-0257
FROM: Susan Goranson, Principal Analyst
RE: Donating Deer to Soup Kitchens
You asked if deer killed on highways can be donated to soup kitchens.
Under existing Connecticut law deer taken legally by hunting can be donated to a nonprofit or charitable organization that serves or distributes free food to poor or needy people (CGS § 26-78a). Deer killed on the highway cannot be so donated. There are several reasons why it would be questionable to expand the law to allow this type of donation, according to Dale May of the Department of Environment Protection (DEP) Wildlife Division. First, deer killed on highways may suffer extensive injury and the deer meat may be contaminated. Second, if a deer is killed on the highway during warm weather the deer meat may be spoiled. (Deer hunting season is during the winter months where the deer meat is not so likely to spoil.) There may also be a question under law of who may legally posses the deer (CGS § 26-86). The law allows a deer killed or seriously wounded by a motor vehicle to become the property of the motor vehicle operator, after it is inspected by the police or a conservation officer and a deer kill incident report is issued. If the operator declines possession it can become the property of anyone else. Unless the person hitting the deer is also the person donating the deer, there could be a question of the donor's authority to donate it.
The law allows wildlife legally taken by hunting to be donated to a nonprofit or charitable organization that serves or distributes free food to poor or needy people. It exempts (1) the game from the state's Uniform Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; (2) the state and its political subdivisions from liability for damages resulting from eating donated wildlife; and (3) anyone donating such game from the law prohibiting the purchase, sale, or exchange of wildlife.
The law requires organizations serving or distributing donated wildlife to notify recipients that the game has not been inspected by any government agency. The organization must also clearly and conspicuously display a sign that identifies the type of donated game and that the game was not required to be inspected under the state's Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The donated game must be dressed; packaged; dated; refrigerated; and tagged, labeled, or marked “not for sale,” The tag, label, or marking must also (1) disclose that the state and its political subdivisions are exempt from liability for damages from eating the wildlife; (2) identify the person or organization donating it; (3) identify the type of wildlife; and (4) state that it was not required to be inspected under the state's Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.