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Bears blamed for disappearance of more than 70 sheep from Hokkaido farm since June

9 Comments

Over 70 sheep have disappeared from a farm in Ikedacho, Hokkaido, since June, with brown bears being blamed.

At Boya Farm, 70 out of 480 ewes that were grazing in the pasture went missing, as well as 10 rams, Fuji TV reported. The footprints of one or more brown bears and the dead carcasses of sheep with their throats cut out were later found. A sheep with a bleeding nose covered in mud was found alive.

Farm manager Hiroshi Anzai said the sheep’s neck bones were crushed and that all the dead animals were probably killed by bears and not foxes.

Ikedacho has requested hunters to cull bears in the area.

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9 Comments
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The footprints of one or more brown bears and the dead carcasses of sheep with their throats cut out were later found.

Wait, their throats "cut"? A bear? They have evolved and learned to use knives.

A sheep with a bleeding nose covered in mud was found alive.

Sounds like this sheep knew how to party!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just when farming in Japan is hitting an all-time boom

Ganbare Japan - could you provide some evidence to back up that statement?

As far as I can tell, the number of people in agriculture is dropping rapidly as farmers are aging, and Japan's self-sufficiency ratio has remained at about 40% over the last 15 years.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

@BigYen, thanks for the link, interesting read. Two things especially I got from reading it:

"Data indicates that livestock predation is not a learned behavior, but is instead the result of an innate tendency for bears to exploit easy foraging opportunities"

And also "flerds", mixed pastures of sheep and cows

"The process of creating a flerd involves penning lambs with young cattle to create a bond. In initial trials in New Mexico, no sheep were killed as a result of predation after 30 days of penning with cattle while the rate of predation on non-bonded sheep was 1 every 5 days."

I expect Japan will go down the usual route of extermination though.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I think it’s quite unlikely bears would take sheep. They might feed on dead ones, but unlikely they would hunt them and take them away.

Bears do hunt and kill sheep, as shown in the (US) link below, and they're often indiscriminate in how many they'll kill. But like you say, as in the case of the Tasmanian Tiger, you don't want to go after them with all guns blazing in case you threaten the survival of bears as a species. After all, they're native, they belong there, they're just trying to survive. The sheep are the exotic intruders.

You'd think some kind of government help for the farmers to manage the problem - other than sending in the JSDF - would be the answer. Culling is not the only potential solution.

https://appliedbehavior.wordpress.com/behavior-projects/bear-livestock/

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Hmm, this is reminiscent of the plight of the Tasmanian tiger. It was blamed for stealing sheep and persecuted into extinction because of it. However, it was later revealed that people were stealing the sheep. Personally, I think it’s quite unlikely bears would take sheep. They might feed on dead ones, but unlikely they would hunt them and take them away.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Livestock losses due to predators is usually handled by population control, ie; culling, in all countries. So I don't see any reason why Japan would be any different.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Just when farming in Japan is hitting an all-time boom, this happens to poor Hokkaido farmers.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Poor wild animals in Japan (and the oceans). They have no chance, no rights.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

I would prefer visual confirmation instead assumption before they go on a killing spree.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

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