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 with Rob Miskosky

Chronic Roulette

Back in 2007, I wrote a two-part article in this space titled “The Great De-Bait”. I had previously spent a week hunting deer over bait in Saskatchewan, as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and whether baiting deer was a good idea or not. As it turns out, I did kill a decent Saskatchewan buck, but it wasn’t over bait; rather, I took my deer in a permission-granted farmer’s field after spending four days watching numerous deer attend my bait site. However, nothing worth pulling the trigger on.

“A whitetail buck feeding on a bait pile only a short distance from the author’s blind.”

In the first part of The Great De-Bait, I looked at the positives of baiting deer and in part II, I looked at the negatives. You can read part I of “The Great De-Bait here, and part II here,

What I confirmed to myself was that the warnings regarding the transfer of CWD and other diseases through the process of baiting deer were very true indeed. Many different deer visited my bait over the course of those four days including every deer type, from bucks to does to fawns. It is well documented that if you get a congregation of deer, the chance of disease spreading goes up exponentially.

“There is no denying it,” said Alberta’s Wildlife Disease Specialist Margo Pybus at the time.

Even the Expert Scientific Panel on Chronic Wasting Disease recommends a ban on baiting and artificial feeding of deer.

I suggested that baiting should be ended in Saskatchewan, as a means to help slow down the spread of CWD, especially into Alberta. Well, today, eight years later, baiting deer in Saskatchewan is still a legal practice and CWD continues to spread from that province.

However, as I’ve also written before, baiting isn’t the only hunter-contributing factor that might lead to the spread of CWD. Hunters also use attractants, many of which contain collected urine from captive deer, and urine is a known source of CWD transfer.

The province of Manitoba saw the warnings and were proactive in their fight to keep CWD from that province. To date, CWD has not been found in Manitoba and their hunting regulations state, “It is illegal to use or possess scents, chemical attractants and other substances that contain urine, faeces, saliva or scent glands of cervids.”

And while the use of scents or attractants is still legal in BC, their regulations state, “We strongly advise further reducing the risk of CWD by not using scents or attractants from deer (urine, feces, saliva or scent glands), as they may be capable of transmitting CWD through environmental contamination. Please use synthetic scents to reduce the risk.”

BC has also put up signs in the Peace and Kootenay regions near the Alberta border that read: “Stop Chronic Wasting Disease. Do Not Import Intact Deer Carcasses. Keep BC Wildlife Healthy.”

And in Ontario, “In order to prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease, products that contain bodily fluids (urine, gland oil, feces, saliva, etc.) of a member of the deer family (including deer, moose, and elk) are not permitted to be possessed or used for the purposes of hunting in Ontario.”

In the Yukon, “The Wildlife Regulation bans the import, sale or possession of scent lures sold for the hunting of cervids that contain animal bodily fluids or tissues because these could introduce disease agents to Yukon locations, including CWD prions.”

In Alberta, we still allow the use of scents or lures containing cervid bodily fluids for hunting purposes. Until it is proven that prions are not spread in commercial deer products, Alberta too should be taking the precautionary road where these products are concerned.

CWD is proving to be a serious foe, and one that is gaining ground. We should be doing everything we can to stop it? ■

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

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