Vermont Prohibits Use of Deer Urine by Hunters

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May 6, 2015

Action by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board intended to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease in the state’s deer herd will prohibit the use of natural deer-urine lures by hunters, making it the first Eastern state to take such preemptive steps. You’ll also read about the slight decline in Hoosier deer hunter success last year, and much more.

Vermont F&W Board Votes to Ban Natural Deer Urine Lures
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board has voted to ban the possession and use by hunters of natural lures based on deer urine or other fluids beginning in 2016 to reduce the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

CWD is currently found in 23 states and two Canadian provinces. Ontario, Arizona and a small area of Pennsylvania prohibit the use of such lures. CWD is 100 percent fatal in infected cervids, and infection levels can approach 50 percent in adult bucks.

Absher's ONH 5-6-15
Natural lures based on deer urine will be illegal for Vermont hunters beginning in 2016.

“The Fish & Wildlife Department fully supports the board in this important step to protect Vermont’s deer herd,” said Mark Scott, director of wildlife for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “This rule still allows hunters to use synthetic lures which pose no threat to the herd.”

CWD can be spread in deer urine, feces and saliva, and deer may not show symptoms of the disease for several years after being infected. CWD can be deposited in soil and remain infectious for decades. The form of the disease found in sheep has been infectious 18 years after being deposited in soil, according to wildlife veterinarian Dr. Walter Cottrell.

Dr. Cottrell has worked closely with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department as a contract wildlife veterinarian since retirement as wildlife veterinarian for Pennsylvania. He presented on the science of CWD to the Fish & Wildlife Board at its April 22 meeting.

“Because of its long incubation period of months to years, when this disease arrives in a new place, it can potentially be there for a long time before it is detected,” said Dr. Cottrell. “And once the disease is there the genie is out of the bottle. Based on the experiences of the affected states and provinces it never leaves.”

Indiana Releases 2014 Deer Harvest Numbers
Mirroring other states in the nation’s mid-section, Indiana this week reported its total whitetail harvest for 2014 showed a decline compared to recent years.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced this week that Indiana hunters harvested 120,073 deer in the 2014 season, reflecting a 4.4 percent decrease from the previous year.

Although it was a decrease from the previous two years, the outcome is by design and reflects DNR efforts to reduce the deer population.

“Several years ago, we modified our management strategy to focus deer herd reduction in a strategically targeted manner to more adequately balance ecological, recreational and economic needs of Indiana citizens,” said Mitch Marcus, chief wildlife biologist for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “We are no longer managing for a stable to increasing deer herd, so the declines in harvest are expected.”

The 2014 total reflected a 4.4 percent drop from 2013 and an 11.9 percent drop from the all-time record harvest of 136,248 deer in 2012.

Tennessee Enacts Pro-Gun Laws
A trio of pro-firearms measures was signed into law last week by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

House Bill 745, sponsored by state Representative Holsclaw (R-4) and state Senator Niceley (R-8), creates a lifetime handgun carry permit. This law sets the application fee for a lifetime handgun carry permit at $500. This law will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

Senate Bill 633, sponsored by state Senator Bailey (R-15) and state Representative Van Huss (R-6), prohibits schools from requiring students or parents to provide information on firearm ownership, prohibits local education agencies from requiring employees to provide information on firearm ownership, and prohibits adverse disciplinary or employment action based on information of firearm ownership that is voluntarily provided. This law goes into effect immediately.

House Bill 1255, sponsored by state Representative Sargent (R-61) and state Senator Johnson (R-23), requires the chief law enforcement officer of a jurisdiction to certify the transfer or making of a firearm, as required by the National Firearms Act, within 15 days if the applicant is not prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm by law. This law also permits an applicant to appeal a denial to the circuit court. This law goes into effect immediately.

‘Families Afield’ Laws Now in 36 States
With the signing of Iowa SF392 in April, a total of 36 states now have enacted National Shooting Sports Foundation-supported so-called “Families Afield” legislation aimed at removing obstacles preventing youngsters to begin hunting.

An effort started in 2004 as part of a national initiative to recruit new hunters by expanding apprentice hunting opportunities, Families Afield seeks to remove unnecessary legal barriers and create opportunities for adults to mentor those wishing to try hunting.

Progress is also being made in a number of other states, including Colorado, where SB 226 passed the House May 1. Montana is working to enact Families Afield, while Tennessee is extending its current apprentice hunting license from 1- to 3 years. Both bills are expected to soon go to the governors for final approval.

Quote of the Week
“George Baldwin Potter is a purist. That is to say, he either takes trout on a dry fly or he does not take them at all. He belongs to a number of fishing clubs, any member of which might acquire his neighbor’s wife, beat his children or poison a dog and still cast a fly, in all serenity, upon club waters; but should he impale on a hook a lowly, though succulent worm and immerse the creature in those same waters, it would be better that he send in his resignation at once, sooner than face the shaken committee that would presently wait upon him.”
– John Taintor Foote,
“A Wedding Gift,” 1923

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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