Some concern over startup
It is the start of the hunting seasons in Colorado and there is a chance that the local elk harvest will help feed more than the hunters. A local group is hoping that additional animals killed this fall will help feed the hungry in Gunnison County.
The town of Crested Butte will contribute $1,500 toward the new non-profit organization in the valley. Known as “Ranchers and Sportsmen Together for the Hungry,” the group was formed by Gunnison County resident Allen Moores.
The idea is that since the Division of Wildlife will be issuing additional elk tags this hunting season, the hunters who get an extra elk might not be able to use it all.
“I’ve found that a family can eat about one elk in a year,” Moores had told the council, “so the idea is to utilize the larger than normal elk harvest this hunting season. We want to help take the extra elk to a processing center and make hamburger. The meat would then be distributed to food banks and others in need.”
Moores said bull elks would cost about $300 each to process. A cow would run about $200. He is hoping to obtain at least 15 animals this year but would like a lot more. He said much of the meat would be donated to the Crested Butte food pantry. Moores asked for $1,500 from the council to help with the program.
The council had $5,500 left in the fund for non-profit causes. Moores said churches in the area have donated freezers to hold the meat once it is processed. “The ultimate goal is to process in excess of 100 animals,” Moores said.
“This is a great project,” said mayor Leah Williams.
“One concern I have is that this is the first year of the project. I want to make sure that the distribution happens efficiently. And will there be sufficient storage?” Williams asked.
Moores said there would likely be a few bumps in the program for the first year but he was confident there would be plenty of storage and the meat would find its way to those in need. “We can always use more freezers,” he said.
Councilperson Jim Schmidt said he thought $1,500 was a bit heavily tilted toward Crested Butte. “I’d like to make sure the county and other towns are participating,” he said.
“It’s a really good cause,” said councilperson Dan Escalante. “We have the money in the budget. We can do this.”
Councilperson Roland Mason agreed. “In a program like this, if they collect more money, it will be used appropriately. I think they’ll get more than 15 animals. If they get 30 animals this season, then the money will be there to help them do the processing.”
“I have concerns with the amount of money we have,” reiterated Williams. “I’m concerned supplying the full request if we don’t know the infrastructure is there.”
Escalante moved to award the entire $1,500 requested. The council voted unanimously to fund the request. Moores said his group would approach the county and other local municipalities for funds as well.