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Species-aid budget looks fishy

State and federal governments spent $1.4 billion on programs in 2004 to conserve 1,260 of the nation's threatened and endangered species. One-third of those funds went to protecting fish, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analysis, released last month.

The 219-page report states that nearly $800 million went for programs to conserve individual species. Nine of the top 10 expenditures—or $273.8 million—went for fish, including four Chinook salmon populations and two steelhead trout communities. Other animals in the top 10 species-by-species expenditures were the Steller sea lion, coho salmon, bull trout, sockeye salmon, red-cockaded woodpecker, pallid sturgeon, chum salmon, and right whale.

At $474.8 million, fish expenditures were roughly four times as great as the amount spent to protect birds or mammals and many more times as large as the amount spent for groups such as flowering species, insects, and the nation's vanishing amphibians.

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