Friday, 7 February 2014

Russian poachers purge parks as Moscow goes nuts for squirrels

Extra police to patrol parks and hand out fines as large numbers of squirrels go missing to become household pets

Associated Press in Moscow

theguardian.com, Thursday 6 February 2014 12.37 GMT

One by one, the bushy-tailed residents of Moscow's parks have been disappearing. The problem: Russians have gone nuts for squirrels.

City official Alexei Gorelov says he has received multiple reports of squirrel poaching in local parks. In response, municipal authorities beefed-up security for all of Moscow's green areas.

Gorelov, who heads the ecological control department of eastern and north-eastern Moscow, said that more police patrols would be dispatched to fend off poachers, who can be fined up to 20,000 rubles (£357).

Squirrels, which are of little use for their meat or their fur, are primarily poached to become pets. Russian websites offer the creatures for sale at 5,000 rubles each.

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