The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food yesterday released 4 million euros to municipalities in which Olympic events will be held to pay for the temporary removal, during the August Games, of all local strays. In accordance with a law passed last year, the animals will be treated, vaccinated, neutered and tagged. Local authorities, as well as animal welfare groups, now have until the end of June to table applications for participation in the program. Although the new law calls for the measure to be methodically implemented throughout the country, the ministerial decision issued yesterday gives priority to municipalities where Olympic events will be held. According to the decision, strays will be picked up «exclusively» from Olympic venues and will be held for 45 days in animal shelters before being released where they were originally found. The ministry said police and municipal officials have been asked to show particular vigilance in protecting strays from poisoning. Hundreds of Athens strays have been poisoned over the past few months.