Deer aren’t likely to ingest scent used in hunting, because in most cases it is sprayed on clothing or dispersed in the air with a scent wick or cotton balls, he said. CWD is more likely to be spread through supplemental feeding.
Last season, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries asked deer hunters to voluntarily refrain from using urine-based scents to attract deer or to mask their own scent.
This year, the agency has cranked that up a notch, telling hunters that beginning July 1 it will be unlawful to use such scents, which are readily available at hunting supply stores, online and through catalogs.
In fact, a new regulation, passed earlier this month, makes it illegal even to carry the stuff when hunting.
That has some hunters steamed.
During a recent public-input period, the ban was opposed slightly more than 2-to-1, but the number of participants in the survey was small. Complaints likely will increase this fall when hunters discover that stores will gladly sell them scents only to find out that urine-base products are illegal to use.
DGIF officials said the intent of the new regulation is to keep the highly contagious and deadly chronic wasting disease from spreading in Virginia’s deer herd. Thus far, the agency has spent over $1 million on CWD monitoring and management efforts.
Since 2009, there have been seven documented cases of CWD in Virginia, all confined to private land in Frederick County along the West Virginia border.
Virginia’s effort to help corral the disease by banning the use of urine-based scents is cutting edge. Only a couple of other states and two Canadian provinces have taken this stand.
DGIF biologists have said that the agent known to transmit CWD has been found in the urine, feces and saliva of infected animals. Officials are concerned that urine collected from captive deer and elk in other states is a threat to spread CWD when hunters disperse it in the woods of Virginia where deer can lick it up.