Come down from the mountains, eat our animals, and you best be ready for a battle, wolves. At least, that’s the mindset of officials in Russia’s enormous but remote Sakha Republic, who have declared a state of emergency. Experts quoted in Russian media believe a shortage of rabbits in the nearby mountains has led hungry wolves to prey on Sakha’s reindeer pastures. Reports say that a total of 16,111 reindeer were killed by wolves last year, amounting to $5 million in losses for herders. In response, local officials have extended wolf-hunting season to a full year and, beginning on January 15, groups of hunters will pursue the wolves for what is being called a three-month “battle.” For the hunters who collect the most wolf pelts, there will be multi-thousand-dollar rewards. The goal is to reduce the wolf population, currently numbering 3,500, to just 500.
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