Conservation

It’s All About the Pee: The Initiative That’s Combating CWD

As of January 2018, 16 scent manufacturers and seven deer-urine providers are enrolled in the Deer Protection Program.
Photo Credit: John Hafner

Author: Patrick Durkin

ATA-member retailers who want to fight the spread of chronic wasting disease should sell only deer-urine products made by manufacturers enrolled in the Deer Protection Program.

But retailers shouldn’t stop there. They can also help raise awareness about this always-fatal deer disease by teaching their customers to look for the ATA checkmark on all scent products. If bowhunters don’t see the distinctive ATA “Seal of Participation” (the trademarked ATA logo atop a large checkmark, and surrounded by a circle) on the product’s packaging, it means the manufacturer isn’t following strict ATA-backed guidelines that minimize the chances of spreading CWD through urine-based scents.

The ATA encourages retailers to visit the Membership Services Area at the 2018 ATA Trade Show to learn more about the program and pick up a “Thrive” poster to increase CWD awareness in their stores. As the poster says, healthy deer herds thrive only with help from industry retailers and manufacturers, and deer hunters everywhere.

Retailers can also help raise awareness about this always-fatal deer disease by teaching their customers to look for the ATA checkmark on all scent products. Photo Credit: John Hafner.

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that’s a cousin of “Mad Cow Disease.” Wildlife-disease experts believe CWD is transmitted by infectious proteins called prions. Although no research supports the possibility, some suggest that scents made with deer urine could transmit CWD if not carefully managed.

To that end, the ATA’s Deer Protection Program ensures that ATA-member scent manufacturers and product suppliers do everything possible to prevent CWD spreading in wild deer, elk and moose. The program resulted from two years of work by the ATA’s Scent Manufacturers and Urine Providers committee. This committee created the program with help and advice from top national CWD experts and state wildlife agencies.

Companies enrolled in the program self-impose protective restrictions on their products and the deer/elk facilities that provide the urine for those products. For instance, deer-urine providers must maintain double-fenced perimeters if CWD is present anywhere near the facility. They must also comply with all state and federal CWD programs, which means no deer in their facilities have tested positive for the disease for at least five years. They also cannot bring new deer or elk into their facilities.

Wildlife-disease experts believe CWD is transmitted by infectious proteins called prions. Although no research supports the possibility, some suggest that scents made with deer urine could transmit CWD if not carefully managed. Photo Credit: John Hafner.

Over 90 percent of deer-urine products now sold commercially are made by companies enrolled in the ATA’s Deer Protection Program. As of January 2018, 16 scent manufacturers and seven deer-urine providers are enrolled in the program.

Dan Forster, the ATA’s director of government relations, met with the Scent Manufacturers and Urine Providers committee Wednesday morning in Indianapolis to review the program’s first year of operation.

“We have a robust program that’s getting good support and buy-in,” Forster said. “Its core tenants are solid and being followed. We look at state wildlife agencies as our partners. They helped us develop the program, and it carries weight with them. They know these manufacturers are doing everything possible to ensure their products remain CWD-free. No one can guarantee anything about CWD, but we can explain our program to agency staff and policymakers, and show our member-companies are doing more than law requires to keep their products safe.”

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