A government funding scheme offering assistance to farmers who fall victim to herds of crop-eating mouflons was approved by cabinet on Wednesday.
One part of the scheme provides funding for fencing of agricultural land threatened by mouflons. A second part covers compensation for crop damage suffered and income lost by farmers.
The scheme, which amounts to a total of €1 million, aims to cover up to 70 per cent of the cost of installing protective fencing and compensate farmers for up to 80 per cent for damage incurred and lost income.
The Cyprus mouflon has been a strictly protected subspecies since 1992, under an EU habitats directive (92/43).
Although active management and protection have resulted in an increase in the mouflon population from a few dozen in the 1930s to more than 3000 today, they are still considered rare due to being endemic to the island.
In June this year, farmers whose produce was being damaged by mouflons asked the state to compensate them and fund protection measures as the animals were now even visiting coffeeshops in some villages.
The issue has been going on for years and MPs have said on numerous occasions that the mouflon population was getting out of control and a plan was needed to deal with it.
Wednesday’s announcement comes as a response to a long-standing demand from farmers who own agricultural land unprotected by fencing in areas where mouflons roam freely and eat away at crops which form their main source of livelihood.