ATA Deer Protection Program Summary
The ATA and its scent manufacturing members are fully committed to helping the state wildlife agencies maintain healthy wild deer herds. To that end, the ATA and its scent manufacturing members have worked with the state wildlife agencies and key CWD and wildlife disease experts to create an industry initiative that is intended to help minimize any potential spread of CWD through the use of cervid urine-based scent products.
The ATA worked with, and followed the guidance of, the experts and the agencies to develop the ATA Deer Protection Program. In our view, this program goes well-beyond the current USDA and State regulations related to CWD testing. In particular, the ATA program requires participating urine producing facilities who supply the ATA participating scent manufacturers to:
1. Provide increased herd monitoring to ensure that animal testing is more thorough;
2. Close their herds to importation of animals and severely restrict the export of live animals in an effort to subject all animals to the required testing;
3. Double fence in CWD outbreak areas to limit (and, ideally, prevent) interactions between captive and wild herds;
4. Conduct annual inspections of both the herd and the facilities and to maintain accurate and up-to-date records thereof; and,
5. Work with the state wildlife agencies to advance the science related to CWD and to foster a better understanding of the spread of this disease.
Oversight of the program will be provided by the ATA and an oversight advisory group, including representatives from the state wildlife agencies and, where available, state veterinary services.
Participants in the ATA Program include all of the major scent manufacturers, as well as the facilities providing the urine used by these manufacturers. Program participants will be authorized by ATA to incorporate the ATA Seal shown at the top of the page, the purpose of which is to signify participation in the program. Program participation is divided into several categories:
1. Participating Urine Production Facility – this category includes all facilities that have committed to the measures (1 through 5 above) included in the Program.
2. Participating Scent Manufacturer – this category includes manufacturers that have committed to ensuring that the urine in their products originates only from a Participating Urine Production Facility. In some cases, a manufacturer may also be a production facility.
3. Participating Distributor/Retailer – this category includes distributors and retailers that have committed to promoting the ATA Deer Protection Program and carrying for resale only products carrying the ATA Seal.
Our hope is that this program will help to better educate the end user (the hunter) regarding CWD and the importance of selecting products to use in the field that contribute positively to the control of this threat to our wild deer herds.
Mitch King, Director of Government Relations
For more information please follow the link below to ATA website.
States that have banned the use of deer urine by hunters are using faulty political motives, not sound science, according to one of North America’s top microbiologists.
Dr. Davin M. Henderson from the Prion Research Center, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University said today that banning urine-based scents is “simply not going to do anything to prevent the slow down, or stop chronic wasting disease” in elk, moose, whitetails, mule deer and other cervids. Henderson’s research on CWD prions and infection pathways is among the most often cited work among states that have sought to ban urine usage as a way to slow the spread of this fatal disease among deer. In fact, Henderson said urine itself is a low conductor of infectious prions. Diseased prions are many times more prevalent in a deer’s blood, lymph nodes, spinal tissue, skeletal system and feces, he said.
In an oft-cited 2015 research paper, Henderson’s words have been taken out of context by those who are seeking to ban urine use for hunting purposes.
In that 2015 paper, he wrote: “Infected deer may shed prions in their urine for months (or years) prior to developing clinical signs and may shed thousands of infectious doses of prion over the course of a shedding animal’s life.”
Earlier today, Henderson clarified that statement.
“The infectious doses referenced in this statement were not for deer,” he said. “No one knows the infectious dose for a deer. In this study I actually authored, the infectious dose was estimated for intercranial injections — meaning it was injected directly into the brains — of transgenic mice that are dramatically more susceptible to CWD compared to a normal mouse, and exponentially more than a deer. It is common to use such values as a reference since the standard curve for the estimation of CWD prions in urine was based on such intercranial inoculation and transgenic mice.”
Henderson went on to say that the 2015 out-of-context quote is misleading in that it omits critical qualifiers present in the original manuscript, to suggest that there are infectious does shed in deer urine.
“Currently, no one has been able to infect a deer with CWD by inoculating them with relatively high doses up to 700 milliliters or about 23 ounces of diseased urine.
Colorado State University research also showed:
• The occurrence of CWD prions is 1 million times higher in carcass and lymphoid tissue and 100,000 times higher in deboned meat and digestive tissue than it is in deer urine.
• It is estimated that it would take 33,000 gallons of urine from a terminally infected CWD-deer to equal the infectivity in just 1 gram of brain.
• It would take 23 one-ounce bottles of urine from a CWD-positive deer to even match what is known to be a sub-infectious dose. At usage of 1 bottle per year, that would take more than 23 years of application to the same tree or area, each year having the same bottle be entirely from a CWD-positive deer and be completely consumed by one individual deer. “This is not even remotely possible based on the collection procedures and testing requirements observed by manufacturers and practicalities of how these products are used.” (much less have an individual deer live for 23 years)
Yet there’s good news: A look at states that have had CWD for decades shows that the sky has not fallen at all. In fact, hunting opportunities are plentiful.
CWD worries hunters because it is tough to eradicate and there is no easy way to know if it’s in a given area. CWD is of the same family as mad cow disease, but it only affects deer, elk, and moose. There are no cases of CWD ever affecting people, and this type of disease typically does not cross the species barrier. (Humans have never gotten scrapie from sheep, despite raising them as livestock for centuries.)
In the 1960s, CWD was first found in the state at a university research facility in Colorado. It was then first detected in a free-ranging deer in the 1980s. And it has slowly spread around since — some by free-ranging deer and elk, and some inadvertently by hunters moving carcasses between states.
But the data shows the worries about CWD are overblown.
In Colorado, a representative from the state wildlife agency recently noted that “deer, elk and moose are stable.” Research has found that mule deer populations in the state have constantly fluctuated through history, with the severity of winter and the amount of summer precipitation being the most important influences on the animals. The agency is focused on having good habitat for deer and keeping predators in check.
In South Dakota, CWD was detected in a free-ranging deer in 2001. It doesn’t appear to have harmed hunting at all. State harvest data show that the deer harvest last year was essentially the same as 2001, and deer numbers are increasing.
The story is the same in Nebraska, where CWD was found in a free-ranging elk in 2001. The deer population went on to reach record numbers in 2010. In fact, it was too much deer for the land. Today, the numbers are down slightly, but the quality is good.
“The hunters are satisfied. The buck quality is high,” said a program manager for Nebraska Game and Parks. (Ironically, a disease that does not get much press attention— EHD, or epizootic hemorrhagic disease — was what killed off a chunk of the state deer population in 2012.)
Wisconsin, meanwhile, has seen the biggest political fight over CWD since it was found in 2002. Some activists are trying to shut down the state’s deer farms, which is an overreaction — farms are closed environments that test and control for CWD, but are innocent bystanders when the disease is spread to them by wildlife. And the free-ranging population is thriving despite CWD. According to DNR numbers, in the four most highly CWD-infected counties in Wisconsin the herd has almost doubled or has doubled in size since 2002.
Further, new data shows that hunting is on the uptick. Preliminary data shows the deer harvest is up 7 percent this year. The biggest increase is in the southern part of the state— where CWD was first detected.
Despite the doomsday predictions, deer hunting is still going strong. One hundred years ago, whitetail deer populations were much less than they are today in the United States due to overhunting. Smart management has helped boost their numbers incredibly since. But factors such as increases in predators (wolves, mountain lions, coyotes), drought, harsh winters, and human development play much more of a role — even if they don’t make headlines.
In the end, there is not much anyone can do about CWD any more than they can control how bad the winter will be. But given smart management policies that focus on providing good habitat for animals and keeping predators in check, hunting should continue to be plentiful for the foreseeable future.
Charly Seale is chairman of the media review committee for the American Cervid Alliance.