The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s veterinary consultant this week recommended the statewide prohibition of scents and attractants utilizing deer urine in an effort to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease into The Keystone State.
Walt Cottrell, PGC chief veterinarian, told the Pennsylvania Game Commission during its regular October meeting Monday that nine states are presently considering banning deer urine use by hunters because of its potential to spread chronic wasting disease.
Recent scientific findings indicate that CWD can be spread by excreted prions (altered proteins) found in the waste of infected animals, long before the disease is manifested in cervids like deer and elk.
First identified in Colorado in 1967, CWD has been found in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. No cases of CWD have been identified in Pennsylvania.
The disease is spread from one deer to another through saliva and other bodily fluids, along with food that has grown in CWD-contaminated soil. The proteins that carry CWD are excreted in both feces and urine, and once they reach the soil, according to Cottrell, become 700 times more infectious.
In his presentation to the Commission, Cottrell said he would recommend and support an immediate ban on the use of deer urine, as well as the feeding of deer with food that may have been grown in CWD-contaminated soil from other states.
The Commission did not act upon Cottrell’s recommendations.