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McCallum seeks $22.5 million to combat fatal deer disease
Wisconsin hopes most money will come from federal government


MADISON -- The state needs at least $22.5 million over the next three years to battle a fatal deer disease found in the state's herd, a spokesman for Gov. Scott McCallum said Tuesday.

McCallum sent a letter Tuesday to Wisconsin's congressional delegation urging it to fight for $18.5 million in federal money to battle chronic wasting disease, which causes deer to grow thin, act abnormal and die.

State agencies already have requested $4 million in state money to assist in the effort during the budget period that runs through June 30, 2003.

"One way or another, we're going to have to address it,'' McCallum spokesman Tim Roby said. "If we don't get the money from the federal government and they're not willing partners in this, then we're going to have to figure out how to handle it on the state level. Our first belief is that the federal government should be partners in this.''

Wisconsin's congressional delegation has requested $4 million in emergency money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fight chronic wasting disease for this year.

Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., on Tuesday also requested an additional $500,000 to develop a test for the disease that does not require killing the deer. No such test exists.

Kind said the delegation would be willing to consider McCallum's request. But he said there is no specific federal fund designed to allocate that much money to Wisconsin specifically for battling chronic wasting disease, which could make finding the money difficult.

"Unless there's an authorized program, it will be a lot harder to appropriate the money,'' Kind said.

Kind said the USDA indicated it would rule within the next week on the request for the $4 million.

Roby said the $18.5 million would be used to hire additional staff to fight the disease, pay for sampling and purchase equipment to test for it.

That includes more than $2.2 million to update the University of Wisconsin System Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison to equip it to test for chronic wasting disease. No lab in Wisconsin is set up to test for the disease, and samples have to be sent to an Iowa lab.

Roby said there would also be a request in the state's two-year capital budget that begins July 1, 2003, for $20 million to renovate the lab. The money to pay for the project would be raised through bonds sold by the state.

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