Virginia Bans Deer Urine For 2015 Hunt Season

cwd-deerWe’ve talked a lot about EHD (commonly known as blue tongue)but now another ugly deer disease, chronic wasting (CWD), is taking center stage. CWD is a contagious and progressive neurological disease that causes degeneration of the brain of infected animals, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior and ultimately death.

CWD has been around for decades in the West. It was found east of the Mississippi in Wisconsin in 2002, and since then has been documented in 8 eastern states, including Virginia. Since 2009, there have been 7 documented cases of CWD in Virginia, all confined to private land in Frederick County along the West Virginia border.

CWDmap082012The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has spent more than 1 million dollars on CWD monitoring and management efforts. The state prohibits hunters from bringing whole deer carcasses and certain parts (i.e., brain and spinal cord) from high-risk CWD areas, which includes any state where wild deer have been documented with CWD, and any high-fence enclosure anywhere in North America. Most experts believe an enclosure where deer are confined in a relatively small area to be the ultimate CWD breeding ground.

Now the next step, which took effect July 1, 2015, is to prohibit hunters from using natural deer urine anywhere in Virginia. VDGIF biologists point out that the agent known to transmit CWD has been found in the urine of infected deer. Officials are concerned that urine collected from captive deer in other states (and bottled and sold to hunters) is a threat to spread CWD in the Old Dominion.

Bottom line for hunters: No more laying scent trails into your stand with hot-doe scent (Tink’s, Golden Estrus, Code Blue, etc.) you’ve been using for years. One of my favorite tactics, especially during our early muzzleloader season in November, is to hang several wicks doused with buck urine/tarsal near my stand to challenge prowling bucks. Can’t do that anymore.

Additionally, you cannot go old-school and collect the urine or cut off the tarsal gland of any deer you shoot and then use it to attract deer on other hunts. That’s illegal too.

Will the ban last beyond the 2015 deer season? Likely. VDGIF officials say the possession and use of urine-based scents will be prohibited until it is proven that CWD prions are not spread in commercial deer urine products. This could take years…if it’s ever confirmed.

“Virginia won’t be the last state to do this,” notes deer biologist Kip Adams. “Vermont has also banned them, and Pennsylvania too in their disease management areas.”

I understand that during the public comment period on this topic in Virginia, comments ran 2-1 in favor of continuing to allow urine-based scents, which is not surprising. A lot of VA hunters have asked what I think.

On the surface this ban does seem like overkill. CWD has been around in states like Wyoming for years, and it has not wiped out the deer herds. And we’ve been using deer pee to attract bucks for decades with no confirmed spreading of CWD in this manner.

That said, wildlife officials must be vigilant as CDW increases. “For a disease that’s uniformly fatal, I think that sooner or later you’re going to start seeing some (deer) population impacts,” said Dr. John Fischer, a wildlife veterinarian and Director of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia.

Next blog: If you hunt in Virginia or any state or area that prohibits natural deer urine lure, there are some alternative attractants to try.


22 thoughts on “Virginia Bans Deer Urine For 2015 Hunt Season

  1. I am a Virginia resident..
    I do not agree with the Deer urine ban? Not sure how they will be able to enforce that unless they physically catch you with it? What are they going to take my scent wicks and have them analyzed? Synthetic urine is still legal…
    not to mention that Tinks 69 actually contains rabbit urine as well? I’m not going to stop using it on my private land, let em catch me then they have to prove it is actual deer urine and they have to prove I put it out! kclap

    • I usually only use it in wicks that don’t hit the ground, but I was thinking the same thing.

  2. Wow I can imagine this will infuriate a lot of hunters there in VA. I think that there are ways to effectively eliminate larger concerns of spreading CWD such as bait piles and feeders. Here in AZ they outlawed baiting practices two years ago due to their concerns of deer congregating in one specific area to feed which would allow for CWD to spread more easily. HOWEVER there has never even been a CWD case in the state of Arizona so this really pissed off a lot of hunters here. I’ve never been one to hunt over bait so it didn’t really affect me, but the guys who relied on those tactics were really upset and I can see why because it’s such a rare disease to encounter here and in many states. 7 deer out of millions there in VA have ever been proven to have it which statistically is super low odds of killing a deer with the disease. I could understand if you guys had thousands of cases, but 7? Really…

  3. Wow that really stinks for VA hunters. I don’t hunt VA but live by those scents, mock scrapes, drags etc and use a lot. Seems like these biologists jump the gun more often than not in a negative way, mother nature can take care of her self with the week surcoming to the dicease and the strong not. If there was a crazy epidemic then I could see banning them but as was mentioned 7 is nothing. A better way would just test the random bottle from all scent companies that would be easy enough if it’s not already being done, these biologists are always looking for studies/job security well give one of these knuckle heads the job of testing scents, I guess it’s just the times ban it or pass another law. SUCKS…..

  4. yes, enforcement would in theory be a nightmare and as Kclap says undoable–are they gonna take your wick sample to the wildlife lab to see if it’s dope piss and then give you a ticket?…or find out it’s a legal synthetic scent. O course not. But I doubt they really care about enforcement–they figure that if it’s a new law, most people will abide…and it is the law, whether we like it or not, or think it’s way too over-reaching.

  5. Wow that’s a tough one. As hunters, I am sure we would do whatever it took to prevent CWD from getting spread into our hunting herd. However…is it really spread that effectively through bottled urine? If it is, wouldn’t it be better controlled at the producing companies manufacturing facility? What’s next..shoot any deer that acts a little crazy and then call in the quarantine specialists to bag up the body and dig up all of the ground around that might have absorbed body fluids? I think DNR’s interests are based on a good concern…just not thought out very well. Sorry for you guys in Virginia….guess it will be calls and decoys to fool them.

  6. I hunt here in VA. This one is going to be a hard one to enforce. As I read it, stores can still sell it. You can still buy it. But don’t use it. That one I don’t understand. You can still use the synthetics. Which still lets us do our scent drags and wicks. The earlier posts are correct how are they going to know? I usually do all my scent bombs and wicks before I head into the woods. They have left a gray area that will cause problems. I have no problems switching to the synthetics. This is just going to make me pay better attention to other things that I may have gotten lazy on. Not to mention save me some money.

  7. I’ve always used natural scents and have had great success with them in the past. No doubt, it will be difficult to police, but I believe it us to us as hunters to at least try and help stabilize CWD. If you have done any research on CWD, you’ll see that there is still a lot to learn about the disease. I would much rather know that CWD is contained and that it doesn’t do either of two things: 1. reduce the VA herd any more than the hit we’ve taken over the past 2 years 2. have the ability to be passed on to humans. From what I’ve read (would love to have an expert chime in), is that a deer with CWD that expires – contaminates the ground that it expires on. As the deer dies the prions carrying CWD move on to the vegetation/ground, so that the next deer that comes along and consumes the vegetation also consumes the disease. Pretty creepy stuff. At the present, the verdict is that CWD cannot be passed on to humans, but again there is a lot to learn. Until more is known, I’ll be processing my own venison moving forward. Still not enough known for me to drop off my deer at a local butcher that I’m not 100% confident other possible CWD deer may be running through the same facility.

    • I think it won’t be hard to police really, they’ll just look at a bottle and see fi it says “synthetic” or not, and if it doesn’t state that clearly they’ll assume it isn’t synthetic and you’re breaking the law. Which is fine with me. I hunt in VA and I don’t want to see our herd decline like in CO/WY/WI.

      FYI it has been proven to pass between deer via urine on the ground. Place in CO had pastures where CWD positive deer had lived, they herded them out, killed them elsewhere, waited 2 years, then brought deer from a place with no CWD into the pastures, and they all got sick with CWD. Totally for this urine ban. Those deer farms do not care about wild deer, only about making a profit. Since deer can 2 years + without showing symptoms it’s in their best interest to not report sick animals and not to test dead ones (even if the law requires it).

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