A Depew woman has renewed her call for testing venison from suburban deer before it is donated to food pantries.
"I think this is totally irresponsible," Kelly Robinson said.
Robinson, a critic of Cheektowaga's bait-and-shoot program, said soup kitchen patrons shouldn't have to worry about the safety of the meat they eat. She contends that authorities have not determined whether deer in Cheektowaga have ingested pollutants from area landfills or pesticides from private property.
"This is not [Agriculture Department] approved," she said of the venison given to the Food Bank of Western New York.
Cheektowaga, Amherst and Clarence donate the meat from deer killed in their bait-and-shoot programs designed to control the deer population. Local vendors process the meat and deliver it to the food bank.
Clem Eckert, the food bank's president and chief executive officer, said the processors do not prepare the meat if they have any question about its safety.
"We've never experienced a problem with venison," he said. "It would be very difficult for us not to accept it. We're in the business of feeding people."
Robinson has raised the issue with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which issues the permits for the bait-and-shoot programs. Abby M. Snyder, the department's acting regional director told her in a letter last year that the department has no records raising concern about the venison.
"Testing of the ground water in the area has shown no reason for concern. There is no reason to believe that the surface water from which the plant growth receives its moisture is not safe as well," the letter says.
Robinson has succeeded in getting goose meat tested. After she raised the issue of possible contamination of Canada geese killed in Stiglmeier Park, the Agriculture Department ordered some of the birds tested for organic chemicals, pesticides and PCBs, as well as exposure to chemicals and minerals.
The tests found an elevated level of lead in one goose.
Since testing at the Depew Village Landfill has revealed high levels of lead, Robinson said deer browsing in the area could become contaminated.
"If you don't want to test it, then don't give it to the food bank," she said.