Use of Natural Deer Lures and Attractants in Virginia
It is illegal to possess or use products containing natural deer urine, scent gland secretions, or other bodily fluids while taking, attempting to take, attracting, or scouting wildlife in Virginia.
The majority of natural deer lures and attractants are made with fluids and secretions collected from captive cervids. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been documented in numerous captive cervid herds, therefore the potential exists for these products to be contaminated with CWD prions. CWD has been confirmed in multiple captive deer herds certified as low risk for CWD and there is no way to either test the products for CWD or destroy CWD-causing prions. With the high level of uncertainty surrounding the use of such products, the Department proactively prohibited the use of them in order to minimize the potential for CWD introduction into new areas of Virginia.
A Letter to Hunters (PDF)
Why is the use of these products risky?
- The infectious proteins (i.e., prions) known to transmit CWD have been found in the urine, feces, and saliva of infected individuals. CWD research conducted in Colorado showed that mule deer were able to be infected with CWD after exposure to just the urine, feces, and saliva of infected deer.
- To make these commercial scents, urine from captive elk and/or deer is collected over a grate system that does not prevent contamination from feces, saliva, or other bodily fluids. Many of these captive cervid facilities are located in areas or states with CWD.
- The “urine” product is not treated chemically or with heat to kill the infectious proteins because these treatments would also secondarily destroy the desired scent characteristics.
- There is no commercially available test that can be used to test these products for the presence of CWD prions prior to distribution for sale to the public.
- The infectious proteins causing CWD are extremely resistant to degradation and may persist in the environment for years in contaminated soil, thereby posing a disease transmission risk to deer for extended lengths of time.
Why did the Department ban these urine-based products?
The Department took a pro-active approach to this issue and banned possession and use of products containing urine or scent gland secretions collected from deer or elk until such time that it can be proven that prions are not distributed across the landscape through the use of such products while afield. The Department’s intent with this regulation was to protect Virginia’s deer hunting heritage by ensuring that future generations have the same opportunities to deer hunt as are available to Virginians today and to protect the long-term health and stability of the Virginia deer herd. Both of these goals can be achieved, in part, by trying to minimize the areas of Virginia infected with CWD.
If owning and using these products is banned, why can I still buy them in Virginia?
Unfortunately, the Department does not have the authority to ban the sale of these products, just their usage.
What does “possess or use” a natural deer urine attractant mean?
It is still legal for products that contain natural deer urine or other bodily fluids to be purchased and sold in Virginia, as the Department does not have authority to ban regulate the sale of these products. However, it is not legal for individuals to have these products in their possession or on their person while afield for the purposes of taking or attempting to take, attracting, or scouting any wild animal in Virginia.
Can I collect and use urine and/or tarsal glands from deer I kill in Virginia?
No, you cannot collect and use these fluids afield anywhere in Virginia. Harvesting and using body fluids from local deer is prohibited statewide. The best way to slow or halt the spread of CWD is to prevent the movement of prions whenever possible, thus possession or use of any natural deer urine, feces, blood, gland oil, or other bodily fluid while afield for the purposes of taking or attempting to take, attracting, or scouting any wild animal became illegal in Virginia on July 1, 2015.
Are there any legal alternatives to natural deer urine lures that I can use?
Yes, there are many synthetic products that can be used to attract or lure deer but do not pose any secondary risks for CWD transmission to Virginia white-tailed deer. These products are readily available at sporting goods stores and online retailers.
How do I dispose of my old products which contain deer body fluids?
Make sure the containers are tightly sealed and then throw them in with the rest of your trash.