Maybe their resolve is breaking down. Maybe they’re just showing they’re open to new ideas. Maybe it’s a little of both.
Either way, Pennsylvania Game Commissioners are considering a change.
Back in August they tasked agency staff with investigating the possibility of banning the use of natural, urine-based attractants by deer hunters statewide.
Matt Hough, executive director of the commission, recently provided an update on what’s happened since.
Hough said staff has already drafted proposed regulations for a ban. The next step is for bureau of wildlife management director Wayne Laroche to meet with deer farmers who produce urine products to discuss the commission’s concerns and get their feedback, he said. That’s supposed to happen in the next few months, he added.
The fear, of course, is that urine products could possibly spread chronic wasting disease, or CWD, across the landscape.
A number of states, most recently Virginia, have banned urine use for that very reason.
Pennsylvania has not, at least not completely.
The Game Commission bans urine use inside the boundaries of its three disease management areas – places where wasting disease is already known to exist. But it’s allowed it to remain legal for use everywhere else.
Some have suggested that’s akin to banning matches in an already-burning building but allowing them to be used in a barn full of hay next door.
Commissioners have been hesitant to act, though.
Now-retired commission wildlife veterinarian Walt Cottrell suggested commissioners ban urines multiple times, starting as far back as 2009. The commission’s current wildlife vet, Justin Brown, has continued to sound that call in the past year. He’s said that while no one can say for sure how much of a threat urines pose to CWD control efforts, they are a risk factor — one the agency can control.
Commissioners haven’t acted upon those recommendations, though, citing uncertainty over whether it would do any good and its impacts on businesses that produce urine products.
Might a change of attitude be in the works?
In the meantime, Hough said he’s heard the captive deer industry is trying to settle this issue by developing a way of certifying urines as having come from herds that were tested for and found to be free of wasting disease.
“Hopefully that will happen in the near future,” Hough said.