Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission Seeking Public Comment on Deer and Elk Urine Rules

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ (FWP) Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a public hearing on May 13, at 9 a.m., to consider the proposed adoption and amendments of three new rules pertaining to the use of deer or elk urine to mask human odor. The purpose of the new rules is to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), which can be present in the urine and glandular scents of infected deer and elk.

The first new rule identifies states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD. These include the following: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming; and the following Canadian provinces: Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

The second new rule defines the process for identifying facilities in the U.S and Canada that produce urine allowed for the purpose of masking human odor. Urine from any facility approved by the Archery Trade Association (ATA) and Responsible Hunting Scent Association (RHSA) is allowed, so long as the ATA/RHSA requirements continue to meet the standards identified in Montana statute. Products meeting requirements must display a mark indicating ATA/RHSA approval on the product packaging for identification by the consumer.

The third new rule identifies the requirements used by the commission for approval of urine-based and natural glandular scents for the purposes of attracting game animals and game birds. The scents must:

  • originate from a state or province not listed in the first rule, or
  • originate from a facility that is approved by the commission under the second rule and display the required marks on the product packaging.

According to current research, the risk of spreading CWD to new areas through use of natural urine-based lures is extremely low, but it’s not zero.  The accumulation of infectious materials is much higher in muscle tissue and organs than urine, so in the National Deer Association’s (NDA) view, it is far more important at this time for all hunters and wildlife agencies to focus on stopping the two most risky activities: 1) all transportation of live deer and elk, and 2) transportation of infected deer carcasses out of CWD zones. Still, NDA will not oppose state-mandated bans on the use of natural deer urine-based lures. In areas where natural deer or elk urines have not been banned, we encourage hunters to only buy products from companies selling urine products determined to be free of CWD prions based on independent laboratory testing as required by ATA/RHSA requirements.

TAKE ACTION

The Commission hearing will be conducted virtually via Zoom. For information on participating in the hearing, visit the Fish and Wildlife Commission page. Public comment will be accepted during the hearing. Written comment can be submitted to: Wildlife Division, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana, 59620-0701; or emailed to fwpwld@mt.gov. Written comment must be received no later than May 14.


About Torin Miller

Torin Miller is a licensed attorney and NDA’s Director of Policy. He works at the intersection of conservation and natural resources law, policy, advocacy and education. He has a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn State University, a J.D. from Penn State Law and is finishing a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State. Torin came to NDA via the National Deer Alliance, where he served as the Policy and Outreach Coordinator.