Japan To Introduce Wolves To Control Deer?

According to news reports, there has been an increase in efforts to develop effective ways to cull the Japanese deer that are damaging the agricultural and forestry industries in Nagano Prefecture.

wolf pack huntingThe deer have spread from the Southern Japanese Alps to the Northern Japanese Alps, triggering moves to cull them over a wide area. Authorities are also trying to encourage people to eat more venison.

A hunters association in Azumino in the prefecture embarked on its first deer cull in the Northern Japanese Alps in spring. And now, the Environment Ministry will launch a council in cooperation with Nagano, Gifu, Toyama and Niigata prefectures–where the Northern Japanese Alps are located–to develop countermeasures for the spread of deer. They plan to share information about the movements of herds to ensure deer are culled effectively. Additional measures besides hunting, such as traps, are now necessary to effectively cull deer. Additional steps are required because membership in hunting associations has fallen to a quarter of its peak, as hunters retire and fewer people join.

The Japan Wolf Association has suggested introducing foreign wolves into the Alps that would prey on deer and reduce their numbers.

Naoki Maruyama, the association’s chairman, told reporters, “[By using wolves] the burden on hunters will be reduced and the ecological system will be protected.”

However, this method has caused concern, with a ministry official telling reporters, “We’re worried the number of wolves could increase to a point where they may pose a threat to people.”

A group called the Shinshu Gibier Kenkyukai (game study group), which encourages people to eat meals containing game such as deer, was launched in March and became a national body on May 31.