Deer urine ban may not be a good idea
I’m fairly certain just about every deer hunter is aware of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and, that in some states, an increasing number of deer are being impacted by it every year. Fortunately, New York hasn’t seen a case of this fatal and untreatable disease since 2005. To keep CWD from returning to New York the DEC has issued several guidelines that include feeding deer and prohibiting the importation of hunter-killed deer, elk, moose, or caribou carcasses into the state.
Biologists tell us CWD is spread from deer to deer through body fluids like feces, saliva, blood, or urine, either through direct contact or indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, food or water. Once introduced into an area, the CWD protein is contagious within deer and elk populations and can spread quickly. The potential for transmission increases when deer gather in larger, concentrated numbers. Deer researchers say facilities with captive cervids, and lax biosecurity, can spread CWD to wild herds. Facilities of concern include breeding facilities, farms that raise cervids for meat, and fenced hunting grounds.
To prevent or discourage deer from congregating in a relatively small area, New York has banned artificial feeding and Pennsylvania is considering it statewide. Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is currently considering a ban on the use of deer urine and scents containing deer urine by hunters during the hunting season. While not banned in New York, hunters are encouraged not to use an attractant scent containing deer urine. If deer urine is ultimately banned by either or both states it could have a huge impact on deer farmers and breeders. Currently, there are dozens of deer farms in New York and even more in Pennsylvania.
The argument is that these urine based deer attractants congregate deer and thus enhance the spread of this disease. I don’t know about other hunters but, when I use deer urine, or a scent containing deer urine, I might, if I’m lucky, get a single deer to sniff the wick I hung on a tree branch. I’ve never, repeat, never had a bunch of deer congregating around the scent I placed.
I maintain that a few drops of deer urine placed on a scent wick or in a mock scrape isn’t going to concentrate deer nearly as much as what are commonly known as “food plots” planted by clubs and land owners to attract deer. I personally don’t know any hunter or group who plant what they call a food plot that doesn’t hunt over it.
In fact, the Penn State Extension is offering landowners a webinar in planting food plots that will attract more deer. In a statement the agency said, “food plots are popular with hunters and offer a sustainable way to attract and keep deer in one area making them easier to hunt.”
This to me is contrary to what the DEC and Pennsylvania Game Commission want to accomplish in not concentrating deer. They are more bait plots than food plots and if feeding deer is against the law, then by their very name, food plots should be made illegal as well. I’ll argue an acre or two of turnips, alfalfa or Imperial Whitetail Clover will seem like the equivalent of a free seafood buffet for deer and will attract and congregate deer in numbers far greater than will a few drops of deer urine placed on a scent wick.
In my opinion, hunters using an ounce or two of deer urine during the entire hunting season don’t pose nearly the risk of congregating deer as will the thousands of food plots currently planted in both states. While I’m in favor of doing whatever it takes to slow or prevent the spread of CWD, banning the use of deer urine may be the least effective means.