Animal scents have been used effectively for countless years by modern day hunters and trappers, hunters and trappers of long ago, and even 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 set-up.
WHY IS OUR TRADITION AT RISK?
CWD is 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 unfortunately in some cases, less scientifically supported measures. Some individuals take it so far, they propose their own ideologies to ban urine-based scents. It appears this may be 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 to support a urine ban, the urine was concentrated, 10 times greater than normal, and then injected directly into the brains of genetically modified mice made to be far more susceptible to CWD than a deer. Even in these experimental conditions that were extremely unnatural, only 2 of the 9 mice 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. PLoS ONE 4(3): e4848. i: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 RHSA 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, formerly with the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University.
WHAT ARE SCENT COMPANIES DOING?
Urine used by responsible scent manufactures like Wildlife Research Center®, is collected at facilities that are highly regulated and continuously monitored for CWD. Furthermore, responsible scent manufacturers and the facilities where their urine is collected, proactively participate in the Responsible Hunting Scent Association – Deer Protection Program, a robust certification program, to bring their practices to an even higher level. This program requires increased monitoring, inspections, closed herds, 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. These urine-based scents are triple insulated from CWD with monitoring of the facilities, biosecurity measures, and all the additional requirements of the RHSA Deer Protection Program. There has never been a CWD detection at a Deer Protection Program facility.
CAN URINE BE TESTED FOR CWD?
Some agencies have aggressively pursued bans on urine-based scents, stating there is no commercially available test to check the urine for CWD. That is not true! In 2019 Wildlife Research Center® and Tink’s®, leading manufacturers of quality hunting scents, began having their urine tested by an independent third-party laboratory, CWD Evolution™ for the presence of prions before they were packaged using the Real Time Quaking Induced Conversion assay, or RT-QuIC. Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and many others are also exploring RT-QuIC for applications beyond testing urine, including as a potential basis for field tests and live animal tests. At this time there are approximately 40 peer reviewed scientific papers that have validated its reliability in testing excreta and tissues. CWD Evolution™ has more than a decade of RT-QuIC testing experience.
All RHSA Deer Protection Program participants with the DPP checkmark on their products, are now required have every lot of urine tested prior to bottling and packaging, to test and certify that no CWD is detected, and provide a final confirmation that these products are safe for use and without risk of spreading 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?
Help us separate the fiction from science. 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. Look for urine-based scents with the DPP Deer Protection Program certification mark, and RT-QuIC Tested seal, on the packaging.