Squirrels are in hot demand in Russia, not for fur or food, but as pets.  Moscow’s Ecological Control Department spokesperson Alexei Gorelov said people are snatching the bushy-tailed animal because they can get as much as 5,000 rubles, about USD 143.  Some criminals have made it their profession to steal the cute critters from parks around Moscow, especially the north side, and sell them.

Recently the city set up a squirrel hotline for residents to call if they see someone trying to steal a squirrel from a park.  The fine, if caught, is 1,000 rubles.

Unlike some other countries where squirrels can be seen as rodents, in Russia, they are loved, with Russian President Vladimir Putin being one other their supporters, a well-known animal lover.

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