Attention hunting enthusiasts: the use of urine-based deer attractants will be illegal effective January 2020 in an effort to stifle the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer, elk, caribou and moose populations.
House Bill 2294, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Brad Witt and Republican Rep. David Brock Smith, passed in June in a near-unanimous vote to ban the sale and possession of deer attractants in the state.
The disease is most commonly spread through the animals coming in contact with contaminated urine. Deer attractants, commonly used in hunting to mask the scent of a human, contain deer urine.
“(The disease) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease and once contracted, it’s not that the animal might die — the animal will die,” Witt said. “It often takes up to two years for that animal to literally waste away, chronic wasting, before it does die.”
The disease has reached national concern after it has spread to 26 states and four Canadian provinces.
Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the disease has been around for more than 50 years and its origins are unknown.
“It has wildlife biologists across North America extremely concerned. It’s basically untreatable,” Dennehy said. “We’re still learning about CWD, but basically any state that has it has really not been able to get rid of it.”
Umpqua Survival Store Manager Carlos Ortegon said his store sells cervid attractants.
“Obviously I don’t like anything that takes away what people can and can’t do when they are hunting or shooting or any of that kind of stuff. But I don’t think it’ll grossly affect business, it’s not a huge seller,” Ortegon said. “There are people that use it, it makes it a little harder for them when they’re hunting.”
He said other options for hunters looking to mask their scent include scent reducing soaps, clothing and laundry detergent. These options are typically more expensive, which is why deer attractant is the more common mask.
The state has taken action to limit the spread for many years, passing laws that require hunters that go out of state to have their game tested for CWD upon arrival in Oregon and requiring roadkill be tested for CWD.
The most recent addition to these policies, HB 2294, comes from recommendations from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represent North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, Dennehy said.
“The large problem is that there is no way presently to certify the cervid urine as being CWD-free,” Witt said. “Absent a way to do that, the only recourse was to ban the urine altogether.”
The bill had near-unanimous support. Rep. Mike Nearman was the only lawmaker who voted against the bill.
“I’m very concerned about the spread of CWD, but I think that the scientific knowledge about the spread of CWD is very weak. I get skeptical of government solutions based on less than solid knowledge,” Nearman said in an email.
“Our effort is to attempt to, the best we can, prevent the introduction of that disease here in Oregon,” Witt said.