Congressman pushes for more CWD action

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Congressman Scott McInnis doesn't think the federal government is doing enough to aid the states battling chronic wasting disease and he wants agencies to come together with a plan on how to address the issue.

McInnis will introduce legislation this week to combat the fatal disease in deer and elk.

This season more than 20 animals were discovered to be carrying the disease in Moffat County.

Prior to this year, the disease was not known to exist on Colorado's Western Slope.

But the continuous spread has been ignored by federal agencies, McInnis said.

"The failure of agencies to act swiftly, to begin formulating a plan to assault this disease on all fronts, is unacceptable and an outrage," he stated in a press release last week. "They have had plenty of opportunity, seven months in fact, to create a workable and practical solution that would begin fighting this disease, instead they have just twirled their thumbs as the disease continued to spread."

Blair Jones, spokesperson for McInnis, said the congressman's intentions are not for the federal government to take the power away from the states in dealing with CWD, because the states are the "experts."

"We need to let the states continue their efforts and let the federal government back them," he said.

McInnis requested a plan last summer from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. When he did not get a response, he wrote a follow-up letter in December advising the agencies to release their plan.

The agencies say they have developed a plan but it has yet to be adopted.

Because of this, McInnis said he would reintroduce and try to push his plan through Congress.

"The agencies' lackluster effort up to this point doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence about how they'll implement that plan, so Congress needs to act," he said.

As the disease continues to spread throughout Colorado and seven other states, the federal government must offer its assistance to the states, McInnis said.

"Time's up for the agencies to act," he said. "We can't wait one minute longer to get an arm around this disease."

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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