A Siberian tiger released into the wild under President Vladimir Putin's animal protection program has escalated its killing spree in northeastern China, slaying 13 more goats overnight, Chinese media reports said.
The latest raid by Ustin the tiger targeted the same farm on Heixiazi Island — at the confluence of Russia's Amur River and China's Ussuri River — where it had killed two goats and left three more missing a day earlier, China's official Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.
The Amur tiger appeared to be getting more skillful in its assaults. Farm owner Guo Yulin told Xinhua that the animal alarmed a neighbor's dog during its initial sortie on Sunday night, but that the predator was able to stage a quieter and deadlier raid the next night.
"On Monday night, the tiger came back and did not make any noise," Guo Yulin was quoted as saying. "When I opened the goat house in the morning, dead goats were everywhere."
Putin released three tigers — Kuzya, Borya and Ilona — into the wild in May as part of the presidential Amur tiger protection program. Ustin was released separately two weeks later, under the same program, but later crossed the border into China following Kuzya, who fled there earlier.
Reports the tigers crossed the border in search of food have been disputed by Russian rangers, who claim the tigers were not underfed.
Researchers have been following the tigers' movements through tracking devices and cameras.
The Chinese province's local forestry has promised to compensate the farm owner for the 18 goats he has lost, but urged him to move his goats to a more secure shelter or to reinforce defense structures at his farm, Xinhua reported.