Shimla, Feb 11 : There has been no cullinbg of monkey after the primate was declared a vermin in Himachal Pradesh, Forest Minister Gobind Thakur informed the Assembly on Monday.

However, farmers have shot dead five monkeys, Thakur said in a written reply to Rakesh Singha of the CPM.

The affected people have the liberty to kill such wild animals in identified areas, he added.

Permission for hunting is granted by the divisional forest officer in case of damage to crops or threat to human life, Thakur said.

According to officials, the estimated population of monkey in the state is over two lakh.

Of the 75 tehsils in 10 of the 12 districts, 39 have been identified by the department as monkey hotspots. A hotspot identifies a place of human-monkey conflict.

Marauding monkey gangs prowl Shimla's streets, creating panic among residents and tourists. They cause havoc by biting passersby and snatching food.

Over 60 monkey bite cases are reported every month by the state-run Rippon Hospital alone.

In localities like Jakhu, Tutikandi, Nabha, Phagli, Kaithu, Summer Hill, Tutu, Boileauganj, Chotta Shimla and Sanjauli, residents have been forced to literally convert their houses into jails by erecting iron grills on doors and windows to block the monkey intrusions.

The minister said allowing export of monkeys was not within the purview of the state government. The Central government banned the export in 1978.

Wildlife officials say a decade ago monkeys were trapped from Shimla and released in jungles. It was the best method for tackling the monkey menace.

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