MOSCOW, January 15 (RIA Novosti) – A three-month long wolf-culling competition, billed as the eastern Siberian Sakha Republic’s answer to wolf overpopulation, kicks off on Tuesday, the local government’s press service said.
On January 5 the Republic’s President Yegor Borisov declared a state of emergency in the region, Russia’s largest by landmass, over what local authorities say is a disproportionate number of wolves.
There are about 3,500 wolves in Sakha, also known as Yakutia, but scientists say the “optimal” figure should be around 500, according to a government press release.
The “gray predators” killed 313 horses and more than 16,000 domesticated reindeer in 2012, the local Ministry of Agriculture said – an apparent danger in a predominantly rural region that largely depends on livestock for survival.
Experts have claimed that a seasonal decline in the number of wild rabbits, the wolves’ primary prey, has forced masses of wolves from mountainous taiga areas to migrate further inland, where they have preyed on local livestock, according to a statement from the local government.
The answer to the infestation, the local authorities hope, is a months-long hunting competition that offers a six-figure prize, in rubles, for the top three wolf hunters.
The authorities have also declared that the wolf-hunting season will continue year-round, until the number of wolves drops to around 500.