The Ezo brown bear, the species found in Hokkaido, can reach sizes of over 400 kilograms. Photo: Wikipedia/Nzrst1jx
national

Bear sightings soar in Hokkaido town feuding with local hunting association

32 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture, is known for many things. Wide open pastures and snowy mountains. A unique cultural and linguistic heritage unlike anywhere else in Japan. And bears.

But though bears are sort of a symbol of Hokkaido, that doesn’t mean that people want them hanging out by their homes and businesses, which brings us to Shimamaki. A small town of less than 1,600 people, between April 1 and 27 residents reported 25 bear sightings within the city limits. During the same period in 2019, there was only one.

So what’s behind the huge spike in bear activity? A possible factor is an ongoing feud between city administrators and the local hunting association. Ordinarily, when potentially wild animals show up in populated parts of Japan, the hunting association gets called into action to either trap or exterminate the creatures, collecting a fee for their services. However, in 2018 Shimamaki’s payments to the hunters’ association just for the period between July and October came to over 11.5 million yen.

City administrators and some residents balked at the price, which included a 30,000 yen payment per hunter per dispatch. In response, Shimamaki enacted a new ordinance capping payments to the hunting association at 2.4 million yen annually.

At that payment ceiling, the hunting association says it’s not worth the effort, and risk, handling the city’s bears problems anymore, and so it no longer offers such services. Instead, it’s up to city employees and police officers to scare bears off with firecrackers and fireworks, but it seems these less forceful methods are proving less effective at convincing bears to stay away.

So far, there haven’t been any reports of bears attacking the people of Shimamaki, but should the number of sightings continue to grow as spring turns to summer, the city may feel the need to patch things up with the hunters’ association.

Sources: NHK News Web via Hachima KikoYahoo! Japan News/Hokkaido News UHB

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© SoraNews24

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32 Comments
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The hunters’ job is also their hobby, so they should not expect much in payment. In any case, if it’s not going to be eaten, it shouldn’t be killed.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Looks like they’ll just have to bear the cost

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Most Japanese seem to think every bear sighted by a human has to be eliminated, shot or trapped. Which is why these "hunting groups" which are supposed to be a sporting club turn into an animal extermination business.

Humam contact with bears is going to happen with habitat loss and increased human development. Short of specific problem bears, they should be compltely under the control of a prefectural agency in charge of game and wildlife. Bears can be tranquilized and transported away from human areas. Bears should only be killed under the conservation plan of such agencies. Is there any conservation management going on in Japan?

Signs warning of bears in Japan depict them as ferocuous and dangerous monsters, which on one hand may be needed because so many people are ignorant of how to respond to encounters, but on the other hand perpetuates the belief that all bears need to be shot on sight.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Is it also possible, as displayed elsewhere in Japan and the world for that matter, that less overall human activity, has led to more wild animal sightings, as they wander more freely? I hope so as I like animals.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It's one of the oldest stories in the world, the clash between human settlement versus wild animals which may be dangerous and unwanted, but which are after all only trying to make a living.

I don't agree with having wild animals shot, but then I don't want brown bears rummaging through my garbage bins either. Surely there can be a compromise that doesn't involve the deaths of either bears or humans.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Bear meat is very edible. But as with most omnivore meat, must ensure well cooked for fear of hepatitus C. Same risk as eating Boar meat.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Then being called out to kill a bear that you can't eat! 

You absolutely can eat it. Source : I hunt here!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I've never heard of Japanese hunters being attacked and killed while on the job, but a number of mountain rescue guys have died in recent years in helicopter crashes, during both rescues and training exercises. I think it's Japan's most dangerous job. Anyway, most of them are paid just as cops. They do not get 30,000 a time. If the hunters are called out at 5pm, bears are often active late afternoon, the hunters may only be out for a few hours till its dark.

If the town is "buying in bulk", it's only natural to expect a discount.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

However, in 2018 Shimamaki’s payments to the hunters’ association just for the period between July and October came to over 11.5 million yen.

What a racket. Is that bear hunting or bounty hunting?

3 ( +9 / -6 )

If the town is "buying in bulk", it's only natural to expect a discount.

Expecting someone to sell something they aren't selling may be 'natural', but it's not reasonable.

See this article for the end result. They don't want to pay what the service costs, and the people offering the service aren't willing to sell it for the price the people want to pay, and therefore no deal is made and the service is not provided.

They can expect a discount all they want. They didn't get it. Now they have bears.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Presumably the 30,000 fee is because it's always been once in a blue moon at short notice. If someone's getting called out every day, they'll be coining it in. 30,000 a day for the rest of the week does not encourage you to aim very well.

This will be oyajis with rifles. It's not going to be like the paramilitary types you get in the States tooled up with camo, infrared cameras, motion sensors, and laser sights. They'll probably spend the first 30 minutes of every hunt on aisatsu.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I've eaten bear. I didn't like it so much - a little too gamey for me - but people most definitely do eat it. Or at least they do in Canada, where I ate it. I don't know if they eat Japanese bear.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

 I'd been under the presumption that eating a carnivore was taboo, not healthy.

Most bears are omnivores. I’ve heard that the taste of the meat can depend on what the bear primarily eats depending on It’s environment. They’ll eat pretty much anything.

I remember one story of a bear finding a stash of beer, ripping the cans open and getting hammered.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The hunters’ job is also their hobby, so they should not expect much in payment.

The city has a job that is not being done because the people who do the job aren't willing to do it for the price the city has offered.

It's the city that has unreasonable expectations here. They want their cake, and they want to eat it too.

I mean, I'd like to buy a ferrari for $20k. After all, Ferrari love making cars. But if I get pissy about them not willing to sell it for that price, no one would ever say I'm reasonable.

Same as with these hunters. They seem satisfied to stay at home, as the value isn't there for them. That means the unwillingness of the city to pay them has led to a problem for the city of being unable to get the service they want/need.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Lets do the math shall we, Y11,500,000 for 25 sightings at Y30,000 a pop.

So the average sighting then means about 15 hunters show up...….. THAT seems excessive!!

I have no issues with hunting but one thing I notice in Japan is they basically have no conservation or wildlife management systems in place for nuisance animals, bag limits, conservation work etc. Sure some of this stuff occasionally happens but its usually local, volunteers & usually no investment by city or govt.

Japan should have set this up ages ago, in Canada & the US both countries have people & agencies to deal with this kind of thing, its not perfect, but at least its there & overall works pretty well. Meanwhile in Japan we basically have ….. well nothing....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Lets do the math shall we, Y11,500,000 for 25 sightings at Y30,000 a pop.

So the average sighting then means about 15 hunters show up...….. THAT seems excessive!!

Maybe its five of them looking for the same bear three days running. Whatever it is, its well lucrative for them and it sounds like the town has had enough of lining their pockets. It's 30,000 for some oyaji who may not be able to shoot straight, not Duke Nukem with an RPG. The same town is probably paying a nursery teacher 160,000 yen a month for 10 hours a day with one day off a week.

I see a lot of wildlife from riding my bike and I get the impression some creatures are not as twitchy as they might be in countries with apex predators like wolves. I reckon you could hit a lot of stuff at short range.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

they choose to live amongst nature, well bears are part of nature.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Best tasting meat in Japan, leaves wagyu for dead. Start selling that stuff in yakiniku restaurants please.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Whatever it is, its well lucrative for them and it sounds like the town has had enough of lining their pockets. It's 30,000 for some oyaji who may not be able to shoot straight, not Duke Nukem with an RPG. 

Nevertheless, the town now has need for a service not being sold at the price they want to pay.

Options:

1) Suffer without the service

2) Pay the price

That’s how supply and demand works.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In other news, 10 bear hides were stolen from the Shimamaki bear museum two months ago. While another sighting reported seeing three bears sitting around a campfire drinking Asahi Dry.

invalid CSRF

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's a serious problem, having bears come into where you live. People talk about how dangerous the wildlife in Australia is, but at least here when we have a bear problem it just means koalas peeing on you from up a tree.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Locals have for long survived and co-existed well with wild animals. It's often "outsiders" or new comers who disrupt the peaceful community, make it an issue.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The hunters’ job is also their hobby, so they should not expect much in payment.

One might think so, but that's obviously not the case. If it were, they would be hunting the bears for free. 30,000 yen sounds rather cheap to me... even the simplest home repair would cost that much. Like Strangerland said, the problem is obvious - they don't want to pay the seller's minimum price. It's the city's responsibility to deal with these things, not the hunters'.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm really suprised, had no idea you could eat bear. I'd been under the presumption that eating a carnivore was taboo, not healthy. I stand corrected, learnt something it's a very games.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why the down votes? Did I say something wrong?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So let's get this right. Last year they were billed for 11.5 million yen +/-.

This year the town council says, "This year you can have a max of 2.4 million yen."

Has hunting become more attractive? Numbers growing? Too many hunters now? Presumably most of the hunters are also local residents. Now there is a stand-off.

Seems to me that one side or the other can make an offer. There must be middle ground. The bears will continue to pile on the pressure, while the hunters can stay home and wait. Whose move?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Options:

1) Suffer without the service

2) Pay the price

That’s how supply and demand works.

3) Hire someone from outside the town, increasing supply. Thus creating competition, which will most likely bring prices down, and possibly even raise quality.

That's also how supply and demand works.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

3) Hire someone from outside the town, increasing supply.

And cost. If this was the cheaper option, you'd think they'd already be doing it, negating the existence of this article in the first place.

Any ideas why they wouldn't have already done that? Is it possible you were the first person to come up with the idea?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

¥30,000 is a pittance when you factor in the costs of applying for a gun licence getting a safe, filling in the forms, having your house checked every 3 years. Then being called out to kill a bear that you can't eat! So these residents should go through the process or just put up with bears.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

If one is prepared to ditch one's morals and concerns for animal welfare, then there is the option of poisoning the bears (or the ones that stray too close to settlements).

I'd rather farmers and households reduce the pull factor by securing their fields and storing trash in cages to prevent animals from feeding from it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@no business really you eat bear meat. I've never heard of that before, but learn something new everyday. Not putting that on my bucket list.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@Bungle I agree can't eat it don't kill it. Really don't want multiple bears in my neighbor hood. So rather kill them them be a meal for them. I'm not so tasty myself but I'm sure they have no qualms about mauling any child or person within reach.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

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