Nikko serious about monkey management
The Tochigi prefectural government will give lectures
to local residents in Nikko in the prefecture to help them oust mischievous
monkeys rampaging around the Okunikko area northwest of the city.
The monkeys first bit and harassed the occasional tourist,
but their mischief now has escalated into a serious problem for local
agriculture and forests.
Both the prefectural and the Nikko municipal governments
have tackled the problem by giving monkeys electric shocks or by banning
tourists from feeding them. However, their efforts have had little success.
"We expect to use the brains of local people to
combat this monkey menace," said an official of the prefectural
government's natural environment division.
Damage caused by monkeys last year to the agricultural
sector was estimated at 24 million yen, while that to forests was 3
million yen. However, invisible damages have also emerged, such as workers
in the agricultural and forestry industries giving up their jobs because
they can no longer bear the years of monkey mischief.
A new strategy to combat the monkeys will make use of
transmitters attached to about 30 of the pesky primates.
The officials will track groups of the monkeys, then
attempt to frighten them by shooting off fireworks before they get close
to areas where humans live.
The officials have been trained in how to use the receivers
and fireworks and have studied the behavioral patterns and ecology of
The prefectural government will offer a lecture from
the end of May to the local residents and those who are willing to join
in the project. The government will train a group of specialists in
the art of monkey combat and vows to get the better of the beasts in
The lecture will be offered about five times a year.
However, the government says it will offer more lectures and lend receivers
to local people when they are needed.
In addition, from fiscal 2002, the government will strengthen
its monkey patrol along the Irohazaka road, a famous sight-seeing spot
near the city.
The new system not only warns tourists of monkey attacks,
but also instructs them on how to disperse the prehensile-tailed pests.
Officials said they have redoubled their vigilance and
are now focusing on monkey management year round, rather than the spring
to autumn tourist season.
The prefectural government used to give electric shocks
to captured monkeys to implant a sense of fear in them.
However, even if this technique succeeded in breaking
the spirits of one group of monkeys, another would come to take its
place, which would have little effect on long-term monkey discipline
problems, sources said.
The electric-shock project lasted for only three months
because tourists complained it was cruel.
The effects of the 2000 municipal ordinance, prohibiting
tourists from feeding monkeys, have been similarly unremarkable, sources
Copyright 2002 The Yomiuri Shimbun
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