Louisiana to hunters: Deer urine lures might spread disease

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana wildlife officials are cautioning hunters that deer urine lures might carry malformed proteins that can spread a fatal brain infection called chronic wasting disease.

Seven states — Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia — have banned such lures, which are used to attract deer, a Department of Wildlife and Fisheries news release Friday noted.

The infectious disease is spread by malformed proteins called prions. It has been found in most deer species, including moose, elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer, and in 25 states and two Canadian provinces.

Dozens of companies sell deer urine lures.

“There is no rapid, cost effective test to determine if commercial urine contains prions,” said the agency’s veterinarian, Dr. Jim LaCour.

Prions can be found in an infected deer’s saliva, feces, urine, blood and antler velvet, and can be shed during the year or two before symptoms show.

The lures are made by collecting captive animals’ urine through grates. The agency says that allows mixing with saliva and feces, which typically hold more prions than urine.

The agency’s statement says no state or federal agency regulates urine production and sale.

So far, the disease hasn’t shown up in Louisiana. Wildllife and Fisheries has tested 9,000 deer since 2002.