MOSCOW – 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 on Jan. 31 ordered bolstered security for all of Moscow's green areas.
Gorelov, who heads the Ecological Control Department of eastern and northeastern parts of Moscow, said Wednesday that more police patrols would be dispatched to fend off the poachers, who can be fined up to 20,000 rubles ($573).
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 ($144) each.