Because of concerns regarding bacterial infections associated with field dressing and processing feral swine, the Hunters for the Hungry Processor Program will no longer accept freshly harvested wild hog donations effective immediately.

Mallory Kennedy, spokesperson for Hunters for the Hungry, said frozen hog meat would still be welcomed, but field-dressed hogs would no longer be accepted at participating processors.

“Our concern is not with the meat itself.  Once it’s cooked to the proper temperature it's safe,” Kennedy said. “Our main concern for safety would lie between the time the hog is killed in the woods and when the meat is harvested. This is really when hunters and processors would run the risk of being exposed.

“Even a small cut on the hand could lead to an infection, and we just would hate for one of our hunters or processors to come in contact with one of these diseases in the course of donating to our organization,” Kennedy said.

According to a press release issued by Hunters for the Hungry, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has indicated a 3.5% occurrence of Swine Brucellosis within wild hog populations, and nearly 80% have been exposed to Leptospirosis, diseases resulting in serious illness and possibly death in humans.

Hunters for the Hungry encourages those dressing wild hogs to take the following precautions:

Wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear when handling wild hogs.

Do not eat, drink or use tobacco products when handling wild hogs because of the elevated risk of exposure and contamination from bodily fluids.

Clean and disinfect utensils with hot water and bleach after dressing wild hogs.

Cook wild hog meat to at least 165˚ to make it safe for human consumption.

Additionally, Kennedy said the organizations’s annual “Clean Out Your Freezer Day” is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. Hunters are encouraged to clear out freezer room for the upcoming hunting season and donate meat (including frozen hog,) which will be distributed to those in need.

For a complete list of “Clean Out Your Freezer Day” drop-off locations, click here.