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China invites foreigners to hunt wild animals
BEIJING, Aug 9 (AFP) Aug 09, 2006
Several provinces in China will for the first time hold an auction for foreigners to allow them to hunt wild animals such as yak and deer, an official and state press said Wednesday.

The State Forestry Administration will hold an auction in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Sunday, the start of the autumn hunting season, the Beijing Youth Daily said.

Once a foreigner has bid for a license, they will then have to pay 40,000 yuan (5,000 US dollars) if they kill a wild yak.

Killing an argali, or wild Asiatic sheep with big horns, will cost 10,000 dollars, while a blue sheep will cost 2,500 dollars and a red deer 6,000 dollars. A wolf can be killed for 200 dollars.

The China Wild Animal Protection Association said they had no objections to the move because many of the animals had been increasing in numbers, making it difficult for animals further down the food chain to survive.

The paper said some of the animals were under some form of state protection, but an official at the wild animal association insisted they were not endangered.

"These are not endangered species. There are enough of them. Besides, we only allow the older ones to be hunted, not the young ones. The older ones would die naturally anyway," said the woman who refused to be named.

"We're allowing these to be hunted to protect the endangered ones."

The auction will sell hunting rights in the provinces of Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang.

The rights will specify the time and place for hunting and the designated animals.

Foreigners were previously allowed to hunt in China, but only after going through complicated application procedures, the newspaper report said.

Chinese people will not be allowed to take part in the auction, the report said, without explanation. However, the government is known to be reluctant to allow widespread gun ownership among its residents.

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