Deer hunters who like to lure their quarry with a dab of eau de doe-in-rut will have to find another way to attract a trophy buck in New York if state wildlife biologists have their way, the AP reports. Proposed regulations would add New York to a growing list of states and Canadian provinces banning deer urine lures in an effort to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease, a deadly brain infection that's working its way through North American deer, elk, and moose populations. The disease is similar to so-called mad cow disease, which affects cattle. Both diseases are caused by infectious proteins called prions, which are believed to be shed in saliva, feces, and urine and can contaminate forage plants and build up in soil.
Since the disease was first recognized in captive mule deer in Colorado about 50 years ago, it has slowly spread to 24 states and two Canadian provinces. States have spent millions of dollars trying to halt it; Wisconsin even hired sharpshooters to kill deer in an infected area. Wasting disease was discovered in a handful of wild and captive white-tailed deer in central New York in 2005, prompting the state to enact measures to halt it. They include a feeding ban to avoid concentrating deer in one area, a prohibition on hunters bringing deer carcasses from infected states into New York, and a ban on deer farms importing livestock. New York is the only state to have eliminated the disease after it was found in wild populations, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said. (Read more deer stories.)