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The Pigeon is dead but the Marmot is alive!!!
An unusual but timely monument was inaugurated by authorities in uranium-mining town of Krasnokamensk, which lands border best wetlands of upper Argun River. It is dedicated to all marmots exterminated by poisoning in 1939-1956 under largely false suspicion that they disseminate infectious plague. Thousands of lifeless mounds above empty burrows were left throughout Dauria Steppe reminding that this grassland was once full of these joyful rodents known as Marmota sibirica or Tarbag in Mongolian.
The monument features two marmots, one of which is a famous archer- Tarbag Mergen converted into marmot for boasting according to Mongolian legend, and another one is marmot-miner - initial symbol of the Krasnokamensk.
Fortunately, unlike Passenger Pigeon mourned by Oldo Leopold in his famous essay, the Siberian Marmot is still alive despite being prosecuted for spreading infection, having delicious meat and carrying quite popular pelts. However nowadays this beast is much less abundant throughout its former range and the author of the monument Alexander Pilnikov is urging Krasnokamensk authorities to create captive breeding facility for marmots to facilitate reestablishment their populations in Dauria.
Rephrasing the famous piece by Leopold we say: "We have erected a monument to symbolize our hope for survival of this species. "
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