The Division of Fish and Wildlife requires the use of synthetic, non-urine-based scents or lures in deer hunting. Use of these products is required because the infectious prions which cause Chronic Wasting Disease can be spread through natural urine-based products.
The majority of natural deer lures and attractants are made with fluids and secretions collected from captive cervids (deer, elk, etc.). CWD has been documented in numerous captive cervid herds outside New Jersey, therefore the potential exists for these products to be contaminated with the CWD prions which cause the disease. Because CWD has an incubation period averaging 18–24 months during which animals look and act normal, fluids from infected deer may unknowingly be collected.
Why is the use of natural urine products risky? For the following reasons:
- The infectious proteins (i.e., prions) known to transmit CWD have been found in the urine, feces, and saliva of infected individuals.
- Prions survive for an extremely long time in the environment; the use of potentially contaminated spray could result in infection to many deer over a long period of time.
- 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.
- To make these commercial scents, urine from captive elk and/or deer is collected over a grate system that does not prevent contamination from feces, saliva, or other bodily fluids. Many of these captive cervid facilities are located in areas or states with CWD.
- The “urine” product is not treated chemically or with heat to kill the infectious proteins because these treatments would also secondarily destroy the desired scent characteristics.
- There is no commercially available test that can be used to test these products for the presence of CWD prions prior to distribution for sale to the public.
- The infectious proteins causing CWD are extremely resistant to degradation and may persist in the environment for years in contaminated soil, thereby posing a disease transmission risk to deer for extended lengths of time.
- No amount of prion exposure is acceptable.
There are many synthetic products that can be used to attract or lure deer which do not pose any secondary risks for CWD transmission to white-tailed deer. These products are readily available at sporting goods stores and online retailers. The Division encourages hunters to use these products as part of the effort against the spread of CWD.
Questions? E-mail the Division.
Chronic Wasting Disease Information
Chronic Wasting Disease: Know the Carcass Transport Rules (Overview of rules of each state from the National Deer Alliance YouTube Channel)