Do Urine Scents Spread Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

By Dave Dolbee published on in Hunting

Urine-based scents are a safe, effective, and important tool for deer management. According to experts that authored the most commonly referenced studies on this subject, the risk of urine-based scents spreading chronic wasting disease is virtually zero.

Dolbee with Texas Whitetail Buck

Texas sagebrush country does not favor tree stands or still hunting, but a good ground blind will provide plenty of wildlife viewing and a great opportunity for a mentor and new hunter or guide and hunter to select the right animal at the right time.

Why Do We Use Hunting Scents?

Deer find food with their nose, keep track of other deer with their nose, and avoid danger with their nose. Their sense of smell becomes extremely important during the rut when bucks are looking for does to breed. Urine from does in heat can be very effective in attracting whitetail bucks. Urine based scents are an important management tool for hunters.

Are They Effective?

Animal scents have been used effectively for countless years by modern day hunters and trappers, hunters and trappers of long ago—dating back to prehistoric times. During World War II, female dog in heat urine was even used to distract German military dogs. Today “In-heat”

or estrus type urine scents are by far the most popular scents used by deer hunters. During the rut when bucks are looking for does ready to breed, a good estrus type scent can really get their attention. Hunting scents are not magic, but if used properly, can really boost your odds of success.

It is incredibly rewarding when you have that big buck respond to your scent setup.

Hunter posed with whitetail buck and Knight muzzleloader.

Mentoring a hunter through their Hunter Safety course is a gift the new hunter will remember for life and the best way to ensure the future of our sport.

Why Is Our Tradition at Risk?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is again a growing concern. Wildlife agencies are under great pressure to take action towards stopping the spread of this disease, such as population management, carcass transport restrictions, live deer movement restrictions, and controlled burns to destroy vegetation exposed to infected deer are being proposed. Unfortunately, some individuals have taken it so far, they propose their own ideologies to ban urine-based scents. It appears this maybe more politically motivated than science based. CWD prions cannot be detected in urine without amplification. Urine from even clinically sick deer must be highly concentrated, in order to produce enough prions to even test.

In the study commonly referenced, the urine was concentrated, 10 times greater than normal, and then injected directly into the brains of test subjects. Even in these experimental conditions that were extremely unnatural, only 1 in 10 subjects proved infected. (Haley NJ, Seelig DM, Zabel MD, Telling GC, Hoover EA (2009) Detection of CWD Prions in Urine and Saliva of Deer by Transgenic Mouse Bioassay. PLoSONE 4(3): e4848. doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0004848)

Let’s be honest, deer in the wild don’t get urine injected into their brains.

The scientists that authored the studies most commonly referenced when considering urine bans, have this to say of urine bottled by ATA Deer Protection Program Producers, “The risk of urine based scents spreading CWD is Virtually Zero.” (Nicholas Haley DVM, PhD Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Midwestern University and Davin Henderson, PhD Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University.)

What are Scent Companies Doing?

Wildlife Research Golden Scrape

Urine used by scent manufactures such as Wildlife Research Center is collected at facilities that are highly regulated and continuously monitored for CWD. Furthermore, scent manufacturers such as Wildlife Research Center and the facilities where their urine is collected, proactively participate in the Archery Trade Association Deer Protection Program, in order to bring their practices to an even higher level. This program requires increased monitoring, inspections, and facility requirements well beyond what is required by the United States Department of Agriculture. They go above and beyond to further ensure their urine products are safe. With the extremely low risk, monitoring of the facilities, and additional requirements of the ATA Deer Protection Program, it’s like these urine based scents are triple insulated from CWD. Scent manufacturers really care about deer and our hunting traditions. They sponsor and contribute to hundreds of organizations, events, and media outlets to protect this valuable resource and promote the sport of hunting. Their products contribute to local economies across the country.

Most of all, they provide an important deer management tool that helps hunters like you, to be more successful in the field.

What Can You Do?

Speak up! Hunters have to stand up for their right to use urine based scents. Take Action Now! Show up at public meetings and tell them not to ban urine based scents. Contact your representative. Make sure wildlife agencies know the use of urine-based scents is a safe, important, and effective tool in the tradition of hunting.

Support the scent companies that are fighting for your tradition of deer hunting and using urine based scents. Support the scent companies that are fighting against CWD. Look for urine based scents with the ATA Deer Protection Program seal on the packaging.

What scents have you had the best luck with? Share your answers in the comment section.

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