Wolf attacks on reindeer have cost the Russian state more than £3m
Wolf attacks on reindeer have cost the Russian state more than £3m (Reuters) Reuters

A second Russian republic in Siberia has begun hunting down wolves that continue to threaten livestock but experts warn the packs are unstoppable.

Khakassia, located in south-central Siberia, organised a group of 30 people, made up of expert hunters and specialists to begin destroying wolves.

"When wolves start attacking deer and livestock they have to be killed and the population controlled. This is the right policy," Russian WWF's Head of the Biodiversity Program Vladimir Krever told Russia Today.

A state of emergency has been called in a north-eastern state of Russia following a dramatic increase in wolf attacks on livestock in the area.

Specialised hunters will begin a three-month operation to cull the number of wolves in the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, beginning on 15 January.

Local authorities declared a state of emergency after grey wolves killed more than 16,000 domestic reindeer and 300 horses in 2012.

Russia media have quoted experts who believe a shortage of mountain hares has caused the wolves to migrate further in search of food.

These attacks have cost the region as much as 150m roubles (£3m) as each reindeer is worth around 10,000 roubles (£205).

The state of emergency was declared by Sakha President Yegor Borisov, who made the decision after hearing complaints from residents after he visited various villages in the region.

Borisov has also offered a "six-figure sum" to any hunter who can bring in the most wolf skins.

Currently there are thought to be around 3,000-4,000 wolves in the region. The "war on wolves" declared by Borisov aims to bring the population down to the optimum level of 500.

"Normally they kill around 600 wolves a year in Yakutia. If you really tried you might be able to double that figure if you used expensive helicopters and planes to spot them," Krever said. "Even if they were able to kill 3,000 wolves the population would recover quickly. But they simply won't get near to killing 3,000 wolves. This is a totally unrealistic target."

As of yet there have been no reports of an increase in attacks on humans.

Last year, hunters were called upon to get rid of a 400-strong pack of wolves which killed more than 30 horses in just four days in the the small town of Verkhoyansk.

Hunters killed 730 wolves in the Sakha republic in 2011.