Deer Urine Lure Bans Based on Propaganda, Not Science

When government regulations go so far beyond rational disease prevention and animal husbandry practices that they actually work to eliminate an industry, the regulations are most often based on propaganda and not science. Such is the case with the recent regulatory inquisition over deer scent products which incorporate deer urine.

Prions — the protein presumed to transmit Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) — have been found in the urine, feces and saliva of infected animals, so some officials are concerned that urine collected from farm-raised deer and elk could spread the disease, and their solution is to ban every sportsman from using or even carrying on their person urine-based scent products.

This approach is an oppressive, over-simplified overreaction and ignores scientific data collected over the past 30 years. There has never been a documented case of urine-based scents spreading CWD, and most reputable scientists, who are knowledgeable on CWD transmission, agree that the amount of actual prions contained within urine is so infinitesimal that it poses no threat.

Nationally renowned expert on CWD transmission, Dr. Nicholas Haley of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at Kansas State University, has publicly voiced his opposition to bans on deer urine lures.

Dr. Haley has researched the transmissibility of CWD in urine and saliva of deer for more than 10 years, and written a PhD thesis on the subject. In addition, his work currently includes the development of a live animal test for the disease. Based on his experience and the available data, Haley concluded there is little risk of the transmission of CWD naturally through the use of commercially available urine from farms taking prescribed and appropriate prevention measures, a risk “very close to zero.”

Commercial scents are manufactured with urine obtained from farming facilities with a minimum of five years (many have 10+ years) in the USDA CWD herd certification program, a program developed using all available scientific data on CWD. As part of this federal program, the commercial scent industry follows vigorous disease testing and prevention programs with state and federal guidelines and oversight.

Yet, regardless of those facts, state regulatory agencies still seem eager to regulate an entire industry out of existence without any factual data and without the backing of science.

There are many legitimate concerns over the transmission of CWD, but urine-based scents are not one of them. While good intentions can be noble, decisions that influence and regulate entire industries and restrict hunting opportunities for sportsmen should be based on facts and science, not feel-good legislation and propaganda.

Shawn Schafer, Executive Director
North American Deer Farmers Association