CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Agriculture may have to cut funds from a program that helps spray for mosquitoes that transmit the West Nile virus.
The proposed cuts, presented to a legislative interim committee last month, come at a time when two new human West Nile infections have been reported, bringing the season’s total to six.
The $2.5 million biennial Emergency Insect Management Program, which pays for spraying for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus and for grasshopper control, could be cut by $174,900, Agriculture Department spokesman Derek Grant said.
The proposed cuts could help the department shave 8 percent of its budget, if necessary.
Gov. Matt Mead has asked most departments to propose 8 percent budget cuts, as the state faces a revenue shortfall because of declining minerals severance taxes.
Despite cuts to the program, the Department of Agriculture feels confident that it can still help keep the West Nile virus under control, Grant said.
This season, the Agriculture Department spent $1.3 million on West Nile control efforts.
The money was distributed as a grant to 32 counties, cities and towns.
“In order to get the funding, you have to be able to show that West Nile was there,” Grant said. “On top of that, another stipulation of the grant process is they have to have matching funds. They have to have funds available to do spraying at the start. This is just to supplement the spraying.”