Yegor Borisov, head of the Sakha Republic, a vast and sparsely populated region of eastern Siberia, has called for an urgent cull of wolves after the predators swamped populated areas in a search for food. The local government has announced a three month "battle against wolves" to be launched on January 15. Special task forces will be put together and the hunting season extended all year round in a bid to tackle what the local authorities have described as a "mass migration" of the creatures. The governor has even promised a six-figure cash prize for the hunters who bring back the most skins. The sparsely populated Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, has seen several dramatic confrontations between humans and the animals in recent years. Related Articles Roquefort under threat from the wolf 26 Aug 2012 Wolf attack jogger: hunt planned for deadly pack 13 Mar 2010 Last January a "super pack" of 400 wolves laid siege to the remote town of Verkhoyansk, forcing locals to mount patrols on snow mobiles until the government could send in extra help. Wolves usually hunt in small groups of just six or seven, and naturalists believe only a serious failure of the usual food supply could have brought such a large pack together to tackle larger prey. This year naturalists say a shortage of the wolves' traditional pretty – especially blue hares – has seen vast numbers of the hungry animals migrating from their mountainous hunting grounds to central parts of the republic. While scientists agree a food shortage is at the root of the problem, it is not clear what has impacted the small mammal population. Some naturalists have pointed to cyclical fluctuations in the population of small mammals, but others have suggested unusually harsh winters could have played a role. There are thought to be about 3,500 wolves in the Sakha Republic, which covers an area larger than Argentina. The local government says the territory can realistically support no more than 500. While no attacks on humans have been reported recently, the influx of predators into more populated regions has had a big impact on agriculture – especially the region's traditional reindeer herders. Wolves killed 313 horses and over 16,000 reindeer in 2012, according to the agriculture ministry.