MONKEYIn an effort to tackle the increasing monkey menace in towns and villages, the Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday announced a cash incentive of Rs 300 for each monkey killed.

The Forest Department would provide an incentive of Rs 300 on killing of each monkey in areas outside the forests where they have been declared vermin by the central government, Forests Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri said in a statement.

He said the decision has been taken to control the population of monkeys in areas outside the forests.

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A notification was issued on March 14 by the central government, declaring monkeys vermin in Shimla for a period of six months. Another notification was issued in May to treat monkeys as vermin for a period of one year in 38 tehsils of the state including Chamba, Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, Sirmaur, Kullu, Hamirpur, Solan and Mandi.

The minister said a committee has been formed consisting of a Divisional Forest Officer, an Assistant Conservator of Forest and a Range Forest Officer to determine and authenticate the claims for disbursement of incentives.

The number of monkeys in Himachal Pradesh increased five-fold from 61,000 to 317,000 between 1990 and 2004, according to the state wildlife department.

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Their number has since declined, presumably due to the state government’s sterilisation programme. The state is currently home to 207,614 monkeys, still a very high number, according to Bharmouri.

The notifications allow mass killing or culling of monkeys in the state.

Quoting the agriculture department report of 2014, Bharmouri told IANS that monkeys and other wild animals damaged agricultural crops worth Rs 184 crore annually.

He said the loss to horticulture crops was estimated at Rs 150 crore between 2006 and 2014.

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