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Truck Seized with 800 Bear Paws

MOSCOW (Reuters) March 22 - Russian customs seized a truck heading for China after agents uncovered a load of animal parts, including nearly 800 severed bear paws prized for exotic dishes, Russian media reported on Saturday.

NTV television showed footage of agents unloading bags on Friday full of the paws, which fetch high prices in Chinese restaurants.

It said the illicit cargo, concealed beneath piles of used car batteries and boxes of food, also included assorted antlers, pelts of fur-bearing animals and dried sea cucumbers.

Poaching is rampant in many parts of Russia, particularly in poorer Siberian and far eastern regions.

Twelve years after the collapse of Soviet rule, widespread poverty often overshadows ecological and environmental concerns, a low priority in public opinion and in government policy.

NTV said the Chinese driver of the truck had been detained pending further investigation.

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