Ban based in Chronic Wasting Disease Fears

The next Virginia hunting season will be a “urine free zone” after wildlife officials in the state voted to ban attractants that use urine extracts from farm-raised deer.

Wildlife officials enacted the ban in hopes of preventing Chronic Wasting Disease in Virginia’s herd. According to the Roanoke Times, since 2009 only nine cases of CWD have been documented, mostly in the western part of the state.

Nevertheless, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries experts allege the risk of transmitting the disease — which infects deer and elk, creating lesions on the brain that ultimately lead to death — is too great and the ability to monitor all potential deer urine products too limited to allow hunters to use the scents statewide. The department had previously asked hunters to voluntarily abstain from using deer urine cover scents and attractants.

Only a few states ban deer urine scent products for hunting.

The move has prompted howls of protest from many Virginia hunters and some companies that make urine-based attractants. Steve Lovern of Reaper Scents based in Stoney, Virginia, told the Roanoke Times the ban is unenforceable and based on bad science. Deer pick up CWD from supplemental feeding, not licking each other’s urine, he told the paper.

“As they eat, saliva drips from their mouth and another deer eats that saliva. This is how CWD is transmitted,” Lovern said.