CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Marilyn Wood is an Iron County rancher and commissioner. She’s also a big game hunter who’s traveled the world for this sport.

“We really love to hunt here too,” she says.

Commissioner Wood says House Bill 142 allows hunters to help the community in a time where inflation has affected many people and meat prices are high.

“Here in Iron County, we are one of the poorest counties in the state, and so we have a great need for the homeless shelters and the pantry,” she says.

Before House Bill 142, Hunters were only allowed to donate wild game meat from animals they harvested to individuals in need.

“The new bill allows that the people still have to harvest the animal legally, depending on what it is, in season, with a license, with a permit, they then take that animal to a licensed processor and then the processor can donate that to a local food banks or food pantries,” says Adam Kavalunas, a conservation outreach manager for the southern region of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

But Wood says processor availability is a challenge due to demand for local meat from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Folks went out and tried to get it from the local ranchers and it made a big strain on our packing plants,” she says.

Wood says she’s hoping the state can add onto this proactive bill, as southern Utah leads the state and country with agriculture.

“Our agriculture and USDA maybe steps in and maybe helps get some of these processing plants going because we really have a shortage of them,” she says.

The new law also sets up an account managed by the DWR where people can donate to those who are processing meat in an effort to help compensate them for their services.