Industry

ATA’s Deer Protection Program: Helping Hunters, Businesses and the Industry

The Deer Protection Program continues to improve to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease and strengthen the outdoor industry.
Photo Credit: John Hafner

Author: Cassie Scott

The Archery Trade Association’s Deer Protection Program goes beyond policing scent manufacturers and their product suppliers to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease. The DPP also helps ensure the health of wild deer herds, which hunters and the outdoor industry rely on to generate funding through equipment purchases and hunting-license sales.

 

As the threat of CWD increased nationwide in recent years, state wildlife agencies focused on monitoring for its presence, and enforcing policies to prevent its spread. Those efforts include restrictions on moving carcasses and live animals from infected areas. Photo Credit: John Hafner.

The DPP’s History

The ATA launched this program in response to CWD, a contagious neurological disease that affects North America’s deer, elk and moose. CWD was first documented in Colorado in the late 1960s. It has since been detected in 23 states, including Mississippi, which discovered its first case Jan. 25, 2018, when a doe killed in Issaquena County tested positive for the disease.

CWD is thought to be transmitted by infectious proteins called prions. Prion-related diseases are 100 percent fatal and cannot be treated. Unlike many wildlife diseases, CWD is extremely difficult to detect. Testing is relatively difficult, and there’s no convenient way to test live animals for the disease.

As the threat of CWD increased nationwide in recent years, state wildlife agencies focused on monitoring for its presence, and enforcing policies to prevent its spread. Those efforts include restrictions on moving carcasses and live animals from infected areas. Some states also adopted regulations that prohibit the use of urine-based scents, fearing these scent products could spread CWD if the fluids came from an infected source.

Although CWD prions have been found in the urine of infected deer, researchers have not proven a connection between urine-based scents and CWD’s spread. Regardless, the ATA worked with ATA-member scent manufacturers, urine providers, wildlife-disease experts and wildlife-agency staff to create the Deer Protection Program. The DPP imposes restrictions and guidelines for urine-production facilities and scent manufacturers, further reducing the already low risk of spreading CWD with scent-based products.

Scent manufacturers enrolled in this program can display the ATA’s “Seal of Participation” label on their scent products. The seal – a simple checkmark within the ATA logo – confirms the manufacturers understand their role in protecting wildlife and, ultimately, the outdoor industry. Photo Credit: John Hafner.

Community Involvement

Phil Robinson, CEO of Arcus Hunting (Tink’s), and Sam Burgeson, president of Wildlife Research Center Inc., manufacture urine-based scent products. They got involved in the DPP immediately and helped the ATA craft its strict guidelines.

“The scent industry really cares about deer and our hunting traditions,” Burgeson said. “With everyone’s contributions and hard work, we created a program that addresses the concerns of state wildlife agencies, and helps prevent unneeded bans on an important management tool for hunters.”

Robinson agreed. “It’s the responsibility of every company in our industry to protect this [resource] and the right to hunt for future generations,” he said. “This program shows that competitors can come together to do just that. Our industry is willing to self-impose sensible facility requirements, increase monitoring and inspections to keep our products safe, and do our part to ensure our kids and grandkids will enjoy hunting as much as we do.”

Scent manufacturers enrolled in this program can display the ATA’s “Seal of Participation” label on their scent products. The seal – a simple checkmark within the ATA logo – confirms the manufacturers understand their role in protecting wildlife and, ultimately, the outdoor industry. It also signifies that they abide by the program’s rules and requirements.

“It reinforces that our company strives to be responsible, and truly cares about the future of deer hunting,” Robinson said.

Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, said the DPP will likely be tweaked and improved as science unravels CWD’s dynamics and epidemiology, as learns more about its impacts on resources. Photo Credit: Shannon Rikard.

Room for Improvement

The program, which launched in June 2016, is expected to keep evolving. Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, said the DPP will likely be tweaked and improved as science unravels CWD’s dynamics and epidemiology, as learns more about its impacts on resources.

“Managing this program within this changing ecological and political landscape will require continued vigilance and management flexibility,” Forster said. He added that updates and cooperation with state agencies help ensure the program’s validity and integrity.

Burgeson agreed. “Changes must be thoughtfully considered, he said. “The stronger we can make our program, the more it will help our industry and the sport of hunting.”

To learn more about the Deer Protection Program or to join the program, contact the ATA at (866) 266-2776.

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