Anna Fifield reports: Rapidly shrinking towns and cities across Japan are experiencing a population explosion. Not an explosion of humans, though. An explosion in wild boar numbers.
Across the country, wild boars are moving in as Japan’s rapidly aging population either moves out or dies out. The boars come for the untended rice paddies and stay for the abandoned shelters.
“Thirty years ago, crows were the biggest problem around here,” said Hideo Numata, a farmer in Hiraizumi, human population 7,803, precise boar population unknown.
“But now we have these animals and not enough people to scare them away,” he said, sitting in a hut with a wood stove and two farmer friends. At 67, Numata is a relative youngster around here. His friends, Etsuro Sugawa and Shoichi Chiba, are 69 and 70 respectively. One of their farmer neighbors is 83.
Southern parts of Japan have had a wild boar problem for some years. The papers are full of reports of boars in train stations and parking garages, around school dormitories and even in the sea, swimming out to islands.
Just this month, a 70-something woman was attacked on Shikoku Island by a 176-pound boar when she opened her front door. A boar charged into a shopping mall on the island last October, biting five employees and rampaging through the aisles before being captured.
In Kyoto, at least 10 wild boars were spotted in urban areas last year. Two charged into a high school in December, causing panic and the students to be evacuated.
But the animals are now wreaking havoc in northern areas long considered too cold and snowy for them.
Here in Iwate Prefecture, only two wild boars were caught in 2011, when local authorities started keeping statistics. In the last fiscal year, that number had skyrocketed … (read more)