An influx of wild antelopes from Mongolia has led to authorities in a Russian region to consider imposing a state of emergency.
Up to 40,000 dzerens, or Central Asian antelopes, have crossed the Russian border from Mongolia, a spokesman for the governor of East Siberia's Baikal Region said. Another 60-70,000 animals have flocked to border areas.
Authorities fear a hike in poaching and a threat to livestock fodder. The issue topped the agenda of the regional government's session today.
"Migrating animals have been consuming livestock fodder, and poaching has increased. The governor ordered the monitoring of the situation, allowing the imposition of a state of emergency in some areas," the official said.
The mass migration began in late 2009, driven by a shortage of food for the animals during a severe winter.
Police and environmental inspectors have been boosted in the border areas and the authorities have handed out leaflets to locals warning them not to hunt the animals.
Five people are already under investigation in the region on poaching charges, and face up to two years in prison and 300,000-ruble (about $10,000) fines each, the official said.
Dzerens are included in Russia's Red Data Book of endangered and protected species prohibited for hunting. The Siberian region hosts a nature preserve for the animals.
In Mongolia, where the dzeren population is estimated at some 1.2 million, hunting of the animal is restricted, but illegal hunting is widespread. Apart from in the Mongolian steppe and adjacent areas of Russia, the animal can also be found in northeastern China.
CHITA, January 26 (RIA Novosti)