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Armenia culls wolves after cold snap attacks
by Staff Writers
Yerevan (AFP) Feb 16, 2012

The authorities in Armenia on Thursday offered cash rewards to hunters who kill wolves after increasing reports of attacks on rural villages exacerbated by recent cold weather and heavy snow.

"Because of the heavy snowfall, wolves began to appear more frequently in populated areas and it became necessary to deal with them," Armenian Environmental Protection Minister Aram Harutiunian told a news conference.

The authorities will pay around $260 (200 euros) to hunters who kill a wolf -- a significant amount in impoverished regions of the ex-Soviet republic.

Harutiunian said that he envisaged a cull of around 200 wolves from an estimated total population of between 500 and 700, which he said would not threaten the animals with extinction in the country.

"We believe that this way we can ease the situation and it will not affect the wolf population," he said.

But local environmentalists condemned the planned cull, saying that deforestation and illegal hunting had reduced wolves' natural sources of food in the wild, causing them to scavenge in populated areas.

"Instead of destroying wolves, it is better to stop the illegal and uncontrolled hunting of wild animals," environmentalist Srbuhi Harutiunian told AFP.

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