Citing increased livestock killings, the Armenian government announced on Thursday financial rewards for wolf hunting across the country.
The government said hunters will receive 100,000 drams ($275) for every grey wolf shot by them. The payments will be carried out by the Ministry of Environment Protection.
The ministry will receive 10 million drams in government funding for that purpose, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s office said in a statement issued after a weekly cabinet meeting.
Sarkisian told ministers that a similar reward scheme introduced in Nagorno-Karabakh against the predators several years has proved highly effective.
The extraordinary measure followed a spate of wolf attacks on sheep and cattle herds in various regions of Armenia. In one such incident, 14 sheep were found slaughtered at a village barn in the southern Ararat province last December.
Another attack reported in the northern Lori province in September left 10 sheep dead and more than two dozen others wounded.
The government statement said that Armenia’s wolf population has grown “drastically” in recent years but did not give any numbers. Nor it did estimate the overall material damage inflicted on herdsmen.
Ruben Khachatrian, director of the non-governmental Fund for Wildlife Protection, criticized the government measure, while admitting that wolves have become a greater threat in recent years.
“One reason is the growth of uncontrolled poaching, the illegal killing of mammals which represent food for the wolves, so they have become more aggressive, looking for food in villages and attacking horses, cows and sheep,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.