I stopped by Adirondack Outfitters in Lewis today to stock up on a couple essentials for the Oct. 17 muzzlestuffer opener and Steve Koop mentioned some states, including Vermont, are considering banning the use of deer urine in hunting lures.
We both found this hard to believe. The hunting lure industry is a multi-million-dollar business and the use of urine as a masking scent and an attractant for bucks is extremely popular.
But I did a little research and it turns out that a ban may indeed become reality.
That's because biologists are concerned the commercially-available urine, which comes from captive deer held in pens, could spread chronic wasting disease, or CWD.
CWD is an always fatal disease of the nervous system which has been identified in deer in 15 states - including New York - and two Canadian provinces.
The disease is spread from one deer to another through saliva and other bodily fluids, along with food that has grown in CWD-contaminated soil. The proteins that carry CWD are excreted in both feces and urine, and once they reach the soil, become 700 times more infectious.
First identified in Colorado in 1967, CWD has been found in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
CWD was first identified in New York in 2005 in the captive deer herd in central New York. After that, several regulations were put in place to help control its spread, included a feeding ban - and a containment area was created in Oneida and Madison counties.
Since that time, two cases of CWD have been identified in the wild deer herd in the containment area, but biologists are optimistic because the disease has not yet spread statewide.
In the meantime, wildlife officials in neighboring states are keeping a wary eye on CWD, knowing it can have potentially devastating impacts to deer numbers.
Last week, biologists of the Pennsylvania Game Commission urged state officials to consider a ban on deer urine and products that use it in an effort to keep CWD out of the state.
Walt Cottrell, the Wildlife Veterinarian for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said Saskatchewan has already banned urine lures and nine states are considering it - including Vermont and New Hampshire.
While Cottrell said he could not give the likelihood that the disease will spread by the use of the lures, he said a ban would be better than doing nothing.
"CWD is forever," he said. "If you get it, you're going to have it forever."
Pennsylvania Game Commissioner Tom Boop asked if there was a way that the marketers of deer urine could somehow certify a product as being CWD-free.
But Cottrell said it is currently not possible because there is no live-animal test for the disease and it can take up to 18 months for a deer to show signs of being sick.
"It seems, at the least, that we should put out a news release making hunters aware of the potential," for urine to spread CWD, Boop said. "I'm just thinking a lot of people have never even thought about this."
DEC Spokesman David Winchell said state officials have discussed a ban on deer urine in New York but said there is no proposal currently on the table to implement a ban.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsmen. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his blog at www.denpubs.com.