The first 100 wolves have been killed in the Sakha Republic as the authorities step-up their campaign to protect people and reindeer herds, officials confirmed.
Our picture shows the early results of a cull which is aiming to slaughter as much as 87.5% of the wolf population of Russia’s largest region. The number of kills are likely to be higher but many hunters remain in inaccessible regions and 100 is the figure known to the authorities.
It comes as officials in another Siberian region – TransBaikal – are calling on Moscow to suspend a ban on the use of controversial poisons to destroy wolves.
Here, recently, a shepherd fled for his life, climbing a tree, as marauding wolves killed three rams.
It is so far unclear if they will be allowed to use of a fluorine-acetate-barium compound widely deployed to curb wolf numbers in Soviet times, which would be highly controversial among ecologists.
Hunting began in Sakha – also known as Yakutia – on 15 January and currently more than 80 ‘brigades’ are deployed in a bid to cull 3,500 of the 4,000 wolves believed to be living in the republic.
Sixty more are planned to start hunting soon, with bounties for each wolf killed and prizes for the most prolific hunters.
Wolves are becoming a rising threat to reindeer-herding villages across the region but the worst-hit are Tompon and Kobyaiskiy districts, where states of emergency have been called. There are also deep concerns on the threat from wolves in Momskiy district.