Deer urine ban proposal gets tabled

Albany — DEC officials have at least temporarily halted movement on a regulatory proposal to ban the use of deer urine-based products by New York big-game hunters.

At one time ready to be filed and published in the New York State Register, the proposal has now been tabled for further review and perhaps altering.

The regulation would ban the use of deer urine and “other related biological products” by hunters in an effort to reduce the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease returning to the landscape.

CWD has not been seen in New York since its original discovery in 2005, and DEC officials said the urine-based scent ban could be “an avenue for Chronic Wasting Disease transmission to wild deer.”

But DEC fish and wildlife officials halted movement on the regulatory proposal, apparently to work out language with those impacted by the regulation – notably the deer urine industry.

“The proposal is tabled for now as the specific of the proposed rule need some additional thought, work, and vetting with interested and impacted parties,” said DEC assistant director of fish, wildlife and marine resources Doug Stang in an email. “DEC and Ag & Markets are refining the CWD prevention plan, which will strongly influence the direction New York takes with regard to a number of items/issues – use of deer urine being one of them.”

Stang said DEC officials “want to make sure our regulatory proposal is consistent with and in support of DEC’s CWD Prevention Plan,” a joint effort between the DEC and state Department of Agriculture and Markets that is nearing completion.

But along the way, several issues need to be addressed, such as:

• prohibiting the use or prohibiting both the use and sale of urine-based products. Prohibiting the sale of those products impacts retailers, wholesalers and the producers of the products.

• prohibiting the use and sale of synthetic products, which are often difficult to distinguish from actual urine-based products.

• allowing the sale and use of urine-based products from “certified disease-free” sources, similar to the state’s existing baitfish regulations. While there are currently no industry or regulatory standards for certified disease-free urine-based products from whitetails, those are reportedly being developed in response to the potential prohibitions.

And, in fact, some states have already taken that step.

Vermont and Virginia  last year implemented such a ban, and Alaska had previously imposed a ban on deer urine use by hunters. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan has done the same.

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials have discussed a similar ban but have held off on taking that step.

“Other states are doing it, but people will argue that there has never been a case that urine has been demonstrated to have created an infection of CWD,” said Wayne Laroche, director of the commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management.

“But at the same time, we are banning deer parts from states that have CWD, and there has never been a case that I’m aware of that deer parts have been directly related to an infection, either. That’s not to say that neither of those have ever occurred, that’s just to say that it has not been documented.”

(Pennsylvania Outdoor News Editor Jeff Mulhollem contributed to this story.)

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