The British Deer Society would like to thank all members of the Society and of BASC who engaged in the recent survey into the usage of deer urine lures.
Although now closed, he reason behind the survey is that deer urine has been identified as a potential carrier of the prion which causes Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) which is currently causing major problems for deer populations in North America. This condition, which causes vacuoles to form in the brain rendering the deer insensitive and without control of body function, is unfortunately always fatal to many species of deer. Currently, there have been no reported cases of CWD or other TSE in deer in Great Britain (GB) or Europe. Given the consequences of CWD observed in North America, it is imperative that GB remains free of the disease. Literature on the disease, its causes and symptoms, transportation and transmission, control and eradication schemes is all available on the internet with a summary on www.bds.org.uk.
The results of the survey of 12,000 deer interested persons was good; 1,700 replies were received, some 15% of the total. What was particularly interesting was the large number of people who either didn’t know about, or use, deer urine lures, also the comments of the smaller number of those who were aware of them, or indeed, did use them. What became apparent was that some (but not all) users perceive that deer urine lures do work in some circumstances. It was also apparent that synthetic versions are also regarded by some as being effective, as are home-made lures collected from deer culled in the UK.
However one aspect which apparently wasn’t noticed, and is therefore potentially worrying, was the possible risk that lure products containing urine collected from North American deer could be contaminated with CWD prions. These prions are invisible and almost undetectable so the risk of unwittingly transmitting a prion to a deer here, or anywhere else in the world via urine exists. The chances of prions coming into Britain in this way may be low but the impact of an outbreak here would be catastrophic. Every infected deer would likely die and could spread the prions to others, either directly or indirectly by contaminating the surrounding environment for long periods of time.
We hope readers will now appreciate why The British Deer Society is currently concerned about the importation and use of natural deer urine lure products particularly any which are sourced from North America.
In summary, for those intending to use lures, the safest option is probably to only use synthetic lures. Alternatively, natural lures taken from the same locality in which the product is to be used may pose a lower risk than imported lures. However, for natural urine lures it also is worth noting that CWD is not the only disease which may be transmitted in urine and that other infections or diseases, some of which are already present in the UK, e.g. tuberculosis or leptospirosis, may also be spread this way, so probably the truly wisest course of action to avoid any disease risks would be to avoid using lures or only use synthetic lures.
Based on current scientific evidence, using (or encouraging the trade in) natural deer urine lure products containing deer urine sourced from outside of the European Union and, in particular, from North America should be avoided because it may risk users unwittingly introducing CWD to the UK.
Thank you again for your engagement, it has been a very interesting and revealing exercise and we are indebted to BASC and to BDS members for taking part. If anyone has any comments or concerns, or would like to obtain further information about CWD please contact The British Deer Society www.bds.org.uk