To Scare Off Wild Bears, Japanese Metropolis Calls Within the ‘Monster Wolf’
The wild bears have been changing into greater than a nuisance, lumbering right into a small Japanese metropolis on the northern island of Hokkaido seeking meals and rising the chance of lethal encounters with people.
As bear sightings, and the hazard, elevated, officers within the metropolis of Takikawa, inhabitants 40,000, turned to a mechanical answer.
In September and October, officers put in a “Monster Wolf” close to a residential neighborhood and one other in a area in a suburban space to maintain the wild bears at bay.
The mechanical wolf, initially developed by the equipment maker Ohta Seiki, stands 2.6 toes tall and is 4 toes lengthy, its maker stated. However when planted excessive in a area, it seems greater than a match for a wild bear.
With faux fur, bared fangs and flashing purple eyes, the wolf turns its head backward and forward and makes howling, screeching sounds when its movement detectors are triggered. The screech can journey a few kilometer, and it is available in greater than 60 varieties, together with a canine’s bark, a hunter’s voice and gunshots.
That approach, bears wouldn’t get used to the sound, in line with Shuji Sasaki, director of Wolf Kamuy, the corporate answerable for the mechanical wolf’s gross sales and upkeep.
Takikawa’s gambit appears to have been a roaring success, Hiroki Kondo, a metropolis official, stated. No extra sightings of rummaging bears have been reported for the reason that robo-wolves confirmed up.
Bear sightings within the wild have reached a five-year excessive throughout Japan in current months, in line with official figures. Since April, 13,670 reviews have been filed. Quite a few assaults this 12 months have left residents injured or killed, and bears have been shot useless. The current assaults, together with two deadly ones, led to an emergency authorities assembly final month to deal with the risk, in line with native media reviews.
Brown bears had been hardly ever seen in Takikawa — about one each few years — however residents have reported about 10 sightings within the metropolis this 12 months, Mr. Kondo stated. On Sept. 14, some residents advised metropolis officers they might “see a bear from the window” of their dwelling. Three days earlier than, town authorities had obtained reviews of a bear cub in the identical space, in line with native reviews. That led to the deployment of the mechanical wolves.
A scarcity of acorns and shrinking rural populations — which function a buffer between the wilderness and the extra populated city areas — are among the many elements pushing the wild bears into different areas seeking meals forward of their hibernation.
Yuji Ota, the chief government of Ohta Seiki, advised Japan’s public broadcaster NHK final month that the robo-wolf might assist people and bears “coexist,” chasing the animals again into the mountains.
“We wish to let the bears know, ‘Human settlements aren’t the place you reside,’” he additionally advised The Mainichi newspaper.
The Monster Wolf was initially rolled out in 2016 to guard farmlands and crops. Since then, deer, bears and monkeys have been filmed leaping away because the mechanical contraption howls. About 70 wolves are in use throughout the nation, from Hokkaido to the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, the place they shield pineapple farms from wild animals.
As for actual wolves, they’re believed to have been extinct in Japan for greater than a century.
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