In Armenia, Kill a Wolf, Get 250 Bucks
It’s a wolf-eat-dog situation in the southern Armenian mountain town of Sisian, which has become the epicenter of a gray invasion. Residents now avoid nighttime strolls to avoid encounters with hungry wolves roaming the streets. The animals have been driven out from nearby forests by heavy snow that blanketed the mountains with up to three meters of the white stuff.
The invaders, emboldened by hunger and an unusually harsh winter, reportedly are raiding the town and nearby villages, snatching up dozens of pet dogs, killing livestock and attacking humans.
Responding to the lupine crisis, the government announced a $250 award for the head of each four-legged assailant, for a grand total of 20 million drams (actually just about $50,000). The Ministry of Environmental Protection will carry out the extermination campaign and oversee bounty payments.
But the problem is not limited to Armenia. Last year, officials in neighboring Azerbaijan reported an increase in the spread of rabies among domestic animals and pointed the finger at wolves.
In another neighbor, Georgia, the government’s wolf policy is diametrically opposed to that in Armenia. Both countries liberalized wolf hunting rules to help the population deal with increased attacks, but if in Armenia the state pays people to kill the predators, in Georgia hunters need to pay the state 100 laris (about $60.27) for a license to kill the animals.
A senior parliamentarian said that post-Soviet efforts to protect the animal had led to overpopulation and growing chutzpah on the part of Georgia’s post-Soviet wolves. Georgians are now also allowed to shoot wolves off-season in self-defense.