Some of the meat is used by bowhunters while the rest is donated to organizations.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A bowhunt for deer in one West Virginia city that began several years ago has become a lifeline for local food pantries and community kitchens.

When hunters first proposed an urban deer hunt in Morgantown about a decade ago, the idea was to control the population. Collisions with cars were commonplace and the deer were seen as a pest that ate people’s shrubs and flowers, the Dominion Post reported. Some residents were wary of letting archers hunt in the city, but the program has proven itself. Bowhunters have had no accidents while hunting more than 950 deer and harvesting about 9,500 pounds (4,300 kilograms) of ground venison.

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

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

“I just can’t state enough that we rely on that first hunt that provides us with so much venison,” Chapman said. “It’s a truly wonderful thing that they provide for us.”

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Morgantown’s Urban Archery Hunt includes a group of about 60 volunteers. It runs from the first Saturday in September through Dec. 31, as well as the last two weeks of January. All volunteers must be experienced bowhunters and complete the National Bowhunter Education Foundation course, as well as an archery proficiency test.

“We place so much emphasis on safety (and) we place so much emphasis on doing things the right way,” said Paul Crumrine, the hunt’s volunteer coordinator. “And our results speak for themselves.”

Crumrine said they hope to grow 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 those areas where they’re not being hunted.”

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