Despite Game Commission’s attitude toward attractants, Wildlife Research Center® and Tinks® encourage hunters to embrace other efforts to counter CWD
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) benefits no-one, but hunters, wildlife managers and hunting related industries have the most to lose from this terrible deer and elk disease. Slowing and potentially stopping the disease will require contributions and sacrifices from everyone that cares about the wild deer herd and addressing those things each have control of.
As hunting scent manufacturers that use deer urine in many of their products, both Wildlife Research Center® and Tinks® embraced CWD science early on and adopted practices to ensure that they were not spreading CWD. These include sourcing their scents from facilities participating in the Archery Trade Association’s Deer Protection Program and testing 100 percent of their urine based scent products for the presence of CWD disease agents using the cutting-edge RT-QuIC ™ process. Most major scent manufacturers have also adopted these safety measures, and consumers can look for both the ATA “Checkmark” and RT-QuIC logos to ensure their scents come from the safest sources possible.
Scent manufacturers opposed a draconian proposal in March to ban all scent use in Pennsylvania, and had hoped that the state would embrace the CWD prevention measures embodied in the ATA Deer Protection Program and the RT-QuIC test, as other states have done. Pennsylvania’s CWD plan that was recently adopted keeps scent use legal in 80% of Pennsylvania not within a Disease Management Unit.
Curiously, the plan suggests government biologists need to re-educate hunters to change their minds about using scents altogether. Market research conducted by Arcus Hunting and True North Marketing in April found that 63% of Pennsylvania hunters use attractants of some kind, and 72% of Pennsylvania hunters believe that lures can increase their success. Some regulators have suggested that hunter placed scents can congregate deer leading to disease transmission, but no data supports that contention. Considering deer densities on the Pennsylvania landscape of 30 per square mile, each urinating six or more times and depositing 40-60 ounces of urine a day all year long (over 4,000 gallons a year) – compared to a dozen hunters per square mile placing a few scent wicks dipped in little bottles of scent near their stands for a few days a year - hunter placed scents are literally a drop in the bucket.
“Both the ATA Deer Protection Program and the RT-QuIC test are investments that we are making for the future of our business and the future of the resource,” said Tinks’ Corey Consuegra. “The costs associated with testing and surveillance are investments that the Pennsylvania Game Commission is also making to address this disease.”
“Focusing on the things that we can control led us to testing our products for prions before distributing it,” said Wildlife Research Center’s Sam Burgeson. “Using scents with the RT-QuIC logo, preventing the movement of brains, spinal cords, and other high-risk body parts are things hunters can control to ensure they are not moving prions around the state.”
Wildlife Research Center® and Tinks® will continue working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to improve their understanding of the responsible scent industry. That does not diminish industry support for the parts of the CWD Response Plan that are rooted in the best available science. Quartering deer within CWD endemic areas and disposing of the brain and spinal column in designated dumpsters, participating in CWD testing efforts, and increasing harvest to reduce deer densities are all proven techniques.
Chronic Wasting Disease is an unfortunate disease, but just as hunters were the key to recovering whitetail populations in the 1900’s they remain the key to addressing this new threat. Hunters can do their part by using these best practices and by continuing to write in to express the importance of hunting scents and lures as an important tool and hunting tradition.
Public Comments can be submitted to the Pennsylvania Game Commission via email: INFOCWD@pa.gov