Whitetails: Scent Companies Join the Fight Against CWD

by Craig Dougherty, Outdoor Life, May 2nd, 2016

Last summer I wrote that some states (Vermont and Virginia) have decided to ban the sale and use of urine based deer attractants. The reason: many scientists in the deer disease community believe the prions found in urine based scents may spread Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Scent manufacturers and deer urine suppliers are not sure they agree, they are quick to point out that there is no conclusive scientific research that indicates that scent products have anything to do with transmitting CWD and they will do what they can do to combat the spread of CWD.

That was many months ago and since then the scent companies and Mitch King of the The Archery Trade Association (ATA) has been hard at work getting ahead of this issue. The ATA, members of the scent industry, wildlife agencies, and CWD experts have developed a new "Deer Protection Program" designed to ensure that ATA-member scent manufacturers do everything possible to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer, elk, and moose in the United States.

Basically the program encourages scent manufacturers, and urine suppliers to develop self-imposed protective restrictions on their products and the deer/elk facilities that provide urine for those products. The restrictions are designed to ensure urine-based scent products don't contain the infectious prions that cause CWD. The restrictions meet or exceed rules already imposed by state and federal disease-management agencies like the USDA's APHIS Herd Certification Program.

Scent manufacturers enrolled in the ATA program can display the ATA's "Seal of Participation" label on scent products that originate from facilities participating in the program. This will allow hunters to identify which scents come from companies participating in the Deer Protection Program. I am happy to report that many, if not most, of the scent manufacturers are participating in the program.

The program requires participating urine-producing facilities to follow these requirements:

* Requiring participation in the USDA's APHIS Herd Certification Program

* Prohibiting the import of live deer or elk into participating facilities

* Requiring that all cervids transferred out of a participating facility be tested for CWD upon death

* Requiring participating facilities in the ATA program to undergo a 100 percent physical inspection every third year and at least a 20 percent physical inspection every year by an accredited veterinarian

* Requiring that participating facilities undergo an annual inspection by an accredited veterinarian that includes a physical animal inspection (20 percent), a herd inventory review, and overall herd health and facility inspections (including fencing)

* Requiring that participating facilities be double-fenced along their perimeter if they're within 30 miles of a confirmed CWD case in wild or captive deer or elk

This groundbreaking program can be viewed as a serious step forward in the battle against deer diseases. This is the first time that industry, wildlife agencies, and the scientific community have come together to do something against this devastating deer disease. Some might argue that these restrictions are not enough but who can say the effort is not noble in purpose. This is an important step in bringing diverse interests together in common cause and Mitch King of the ATA deserves kudos.

This is an important step important in the battle against CWD especially since CWD research funds have been drastically cut in recent years. The ATA and scent manufacturers are doing their part, now it is up to hunters to do theirs by only using scents wearing the seal of participation in the ATA's "Deer Protection Program".