Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed his support of tougher punishment for illegal hunting, including the poaching of tigers.
During Monday's conference on the development of Russia's Far East organized by the United Russia party in the city of Khabarovsk, a representative of one of the Far Eastern indigenous peoples asked the participants about the tightening of punishment for hunting tigers, which currently stipulates a fine of 1,500 rubles ($48).
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said the country's Ministry of Natural Resources had already introduced a relevant bill.
"It includes separate articles on tigers and leopards, which stipulate the punishment for poaching, including arrest and imprisonment," Ivanov said.
"Feed them to tigers and leopards," Putin joked.
In a recent interview with CNN's Larry King, Putin, who is known for his efforts to preserve endangered animals such as tigers and polar bears, said his interest in tigers was sparked by a TV report about U.S. and Russian experts working together in the Far East to protect tigers.
The prime minister said he was "ashamed" to see foreign experts involved in solving the problem of endangered animals in Russia, which moved him to take a tiger protection program under his personal control.
According to Putin, there were just twenty to thirty tigers in the Far East several decades ago, while now there are more than 500.
KHABAROVSK, December 6 (RIA Novosti)