New regulations in South Carolina makes it illegal to use natural deer lures and attractants for deer hunting, such as those which are deer urine-based, beginning in the upcoming white-tailed deer season.
The decision has drawn a strong response in opposition from deer-scent makers (see below).
Specifically, according to the new state deer regulation:
“Commercial natural deer urine products are made of urine collected from deer in other states, many of which have diagnosed CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease). The CWD agent can be found in deer urine. Distributing this urine may contaminate the environment. For this reason no person shall possess or use any substance or material that contains or purports to contain any excretion collected from a cervid (deer) including urine, feces, blood, gland oil, or other body fluid for the purpose of taking, attracting, or scouting any wild animal in SC. This does not prohibit the use of synthetic products or substances collected by a hunter from deer legally harvested in SC.”
Click here to read more about the South Carolina regulation on use of deer urine
The agency also said:
“The majority of natural deer lures and attractants are made with fluids and secretions collected from captive cervids. Chronic Wasting Disease, a transmissible or contagious, always fatal, neurological disease, has been documented in numerous captive cervid herds, therefore the potential exists for these products to be contaminated with CWD prions. Once introduced, the disease agent can remain viable in the environment, in the soil for example, were local deer may become infected. There is no way to either test the products for CWD or destroy CWD-causing prions. With the high level of uncertainty surrounding the use of such products, the department is following the lead of other states in proactively prohibited the use of them in order to minimize the potential for CWD introduction into South Carolina.”
Response from Scent-Makers
Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s, makers of scent-masking products, including many which are deer urine-based, responded to the new regulation, saying it takes away a safe hunting tool used by many hunters and is based on “false and misleading information.”
More from the companies’ response:
“In the recent press release by the South Carolina DNR, it was stated ‘CWD research conducted in Colorado showed that mule deer were able to be infected with CWD after exposure to just the urine, feces and saliva of infected deer.’ This statement is misleading and misrepresents the actual scientific finding of these studies. Many studies have attempted to transmit CWD with urine and none have been successful in deer. Later studies in Colorado used urine from CWD sick deer [injected directly into the brains of mice]. …We are led to believe that urine is a risk for spreading the disease by putting a small amount, from facilities that are enrolled in a program to safeguard their deer from risk of contamination, on a scent wick or squirting it on the ground. … Hunters are not injecting deer with urine and the urine is coming from healthy animals and not sick ones! …
Click here to read the entire statement
”The urine from hunting scent companies like Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s is collected from healthy animals and not sick ones. South Carolina wildlife officials say that the urine comes from captive herd facilities and that CWD has been found in 40 captive cervid facilities since 2012. What they don’t tell you is the collection facilities that companies like Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s use are from a small number (less than a dozen) of highly specialized facilities and are vastly different than the other likely 10,000 deer farms across the country. Of the 40 mentioned positives since 2012, only 16 were in a certified herd testing and certification program, and none of those were closed to importation of deer like the facilities where urine is sourced. The facilities the urine scent companies utilize are all 100-percent monitored, meaning every deer that dies is tested. CWD has never been found in one of these urine collection facilities.
”South Carolina wildlife officials also say the scent industry is not regulated by any agency or entity and there is no testing or marking requirements identifying the source of the urine products. That is also false. The collection facilities are regulated by state and federal department of agriculture and wildlife agency rules and regulations relating specifically to CWD and to the operation of those facilities. All of the source herds are 100-percent monitored. The department of agriculture requires that testing is conducted before issuing the testing certifications the facilities all have and maintain.
”Furthermore, the scent industry with the help of the Archery Trade Association, worked with industry experts, wildlife disease experts, CWD scientists, and many others to develop the ATA Deer Protection Program to safeguard their facilities from any risk of CWD contamination. The small number of elite operations in this program far exceed the USDA standards with a higher level of biosecurity than any other of the previously mentioned deer farms and their products proudly display the ATA checkmark on their packaging. To name a few requirements of the program, the facilities have to be 100% monitored, closed to importation of deer, and are annually inspected by accredited veterinarians which also review their records to verify they are meeting all of the requirements of the program. According to two of the top experts who authored the most commonly referenced studies on CWD relating to urine, ‘The risk of urine-based scents spreading CWD is virtually zero. When you consider the process of how urine is collected and all the measures in place, these products are not a risk of spreading CWD.’
”SCDNR also states that there is no commercially available CWD test for our products. Wrong again. Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s have collaboratively funded a research project and a test for urine has been developed. It is now becoming commercially available to test and certify these products have no detectable levels of CWD in them. Companies like Tink’s and Wildlife have already begun testing their products in 2019 and many others will be sure to follow.”
Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s said other states considering similar bans on deer-urine use decided not to after learning about the industry processes.
“SCDNR obviously did not reach out to the companies these bans would affect or adequately research the scent industry before implementing this new rule, otherwise this information could have been made readily available to them. … There was no apparent notice or warning of this rule being passed. Multiple dealers and hunters in South Carolina have reached out to us in total surprise. … It was irresponsible and downright harmful for the agency to put hunting retailers, both big and small, who have already made significant investment in stocking product and hunters who rely on these products in this difficult position.
“Unfortunately, now it is up to the hunters in South Carolina who have needlessly lost their right to use these products, to hold the DNR and legislators responsible for these new rules accountable and demand change. We encourage hunters to express your thoughts and comments on this new rule to the SCDNR. To comment, visit their website at or simply email them at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Bans in Minn., Pa.
The companies also are urging deer hunters in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, states where urine-based scents are banned in CWD management zones, to voice their opinions.
”The argument made by rule makers to ban these products is that they unnaturally congregate deer like bait or feed, thereby increasing interaction between animals and possibly increasing the spread of disease. While a scent set-up can effectively attract the interest of deer nearby for a short period of time to the benefit of a hunter, putting a small amount of deer urine on some wicks is insignificant regarding the overall ‘congregation of animals’ argument. It would cause no more congregation than using a call or decoy and is a natural occurrence of deer already in the area.”
”A typical deer releases about 64 oz of urine per day in good weather conditions and 42 oz in bad weather conditions which calculates to approximately 150 gallons per year. We have never verified the frequency on camera, but our assumption is that each deer urinates on average 4 to 6 times per day. That’s over 1,800 times per year.
"The point is that deer are naturally urinating exponentially more urine in the general area already versus a hunter using 1 or 2 oz of urine that lasts a few hours to attract deer closer to his hunting location. Even with deer lure, you still have to be in a good spot where deer already exist.It does not bring in dozens of bucks from far away for extended periods of time like bait or feed might. The animals do not eat the scent and do not spend long periods of time there interacting with each other like they would at a bait pile. The animals that are attracted live and urinate all around that area already.
"If you made any legitimate argument at all, it would be that you are adding scent locations to the already natural ones.But then this logic would mean that deer are actually decreasing the amount of congregation because now they are attracted to multiple spots versus just the natural ones that were going to be there anyway.
"Plus, the urine deposits would be more diluted because there are more of them. Most importantly, urine-based scents help hunters to be more successful, decreasing the population, further decreasing natural congregation of deer in that area over long periods of time. If using urine-based lures encourages deer to move around to these different scent locations actually decreasing congregation at the natural scent locations, thereby diluting the urine deposits in these natural locations, and increasing hunters’ success therefore lowering the risk of disease transmission, then what is the Wildlife Agency really trying to accomplish with this rule?
"It is also important to note, that lead authors of the most commonly referenced studies on urine and CWD agree that “the risk of urine-based scents spreading CWD is virtually zero”.See more about this at www.cwdfacts.org
"MN hunters can comment to the MN DNR at the following address: Website: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/contact/index.htmlEmail:email@example.com
"PA hunters can comment to the PA Game Commission at the following addresses: Website:https://www.pgc.pa.gov/InformationResources/AboutUs/ContactInformation/Pages/default.aspx Email:firstname.lastname@example.org"