State may spend $1.3 million more to fight elk, fish diseases

November 30, 2001 Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) by John Sanko
Colorado may spend an additional $1.3 million next year in its ongoing battle against chronic wasting disease in deer and elk and whirling disease in trout.

Legislative budget writers learned Thursday the Division of Wildlife wants more than $430,000 next fiscal year for chronic wasting disease problems. That's on top of $300,000 it's seeking immediately to begin destroying and testing diseased animals this winter.

The division wants $600,000 to purchase 258,000 disease-free, 10-inch catchable trout to stock in clean Colorado waters and to buy another 300,000 fish that have tested positive for the disease.

The fish that test positive would be stocked in areas where the contamination can't spread. The private hatcheries that get the funds would have to agree to a program to clean up their sites.

Not everyone was pleased with the idea of handing out funds to private fisheries, even though budget analyst Bill Levine warned the nine private fisheries in Colorado with the disease might go out of business without the extra help.

"Why are we using taxpayer dollars to bail out fish hatcheries?" asked Sen. Dave Owen, R-Greeley.

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