In the far north, hunters take to the woods to collect high
bounties on the hides of hungry wolves who are ravaging domesticated
livestock because their natural prey is scarce..
A region in Siberia has declared a state of emergency because of
an explosion this winter in its population of wolves.
The governor, Yegor A. Borisov, told Russian news agencies that
extraordinary measures were needed: Packs have taken to prowling at
the edges of villages in the area, called Sakha-Yakutia, eating
livestock including horses and domesticated reindeer.
They are slinking near towns such as Verkhoyansk, far above the
Arctic Circle, where the mayor told a regional newspaper he had
organized a hunting party to kill as many wolves as possible.
"Our hunters killed more than half the pack," the mayor, Mikhail
"Those that survived are again threatening the horses." They,
too, will be shot at the first opportunity, he said.
Russian wolf hunters generally shoot the animals with shotguns
while riding on snowmobiles, which can outpace the wolves in thick
winter snow. Traps are sometimes used. Poisoning was outlawed in
They hunt for a pelt bounty, in effect in many regions of
Siberia, which in Yakutia this winter was set at $660 per adult wolf
pelt and less, $50, for the skin of a cub.
The governor, Mr. Borisov, announced the organization of region-
wide hunting parties to take to the forests next Tuesday. Otherwise,
the state of emergency was largely symbolic and intended to draw
attention to the problem, experts on Russia's wolf population said.
Far from worrying about wolf conservation, as is the case, though
controversially, in parts of the Western United States, the thinly
populated region of Yakutia, and much of the rest of Russia too,
grapples with a perennial problem of excessive predation by wolves.
In announcing the state of emergency, the regional government
said wolves killed about 16,000 domesticated reindeer last year and
313 horses. The wolf population was about 3,500 breeding pairs, the
government said, while ideally it should not exceed 500.
In Russia, a country with many enthusiastic hunters and lots of
open space, only the most charismatic of predators -- the Amur snow
tigers, for example -- are accorded much protection. Hunters without
controversy cull wolves and bears by the hundreds.
Along with the regionwide bounty in Yakutia, some municipalities
have promised additional incentives for killing wolves. The city of
Verkhoyansk, for example, offers an additional $300 per dead wolf. …