[Moscow News]

The Moscow government plans to pass a bill that would ban the hunting of small animals in the environs of the capital. The new bill would also protect the natural habitats of these animals, an area not currently covered by Russian federal law.

"Squirrels, hedgehogs, hares and other animals will be protected by law from town-planning as well as from irresponsible citizens," said Vera Stepanenko, chairwoman of the Moscow City Duma's Ecological Policy Commission. A member of Stepanenko's staff said that the bill still needs several more hearings in the Duma, and will not come into effect until next year at the earliest.

The proposed law would be enforced by a series of fines. Any individual found deliberately damaging an animal's habitat - for example by burning vegetation - would be fined between 1,000 and 2,000 rubles, while companies and organizations doing the same would be obliged to pay up to 150,000 rubles. Hunting or otherwise abusing any of the small animals mentioned would lead to a fine of 2,500 rubles.

The move is especially surprising considering the overview of animal rights in Russia. Dog fighting, banned in almost every Western nation, is still legal and popular in many parts of the former Soviet Union.

The Russian government still allows the hunting of polar bears for indigenous peoples, despite the fact that the arctic animal is at high risk of extinction.


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