August 22, 2014
, which is under an evacuation advisory as a result of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The Japanese macaques population is said to have reached about 390, or three times its precrisis level.
“I see it, there it is,” said a member of the local hunters association in charge of harmful animal and bird control when he spotted a baby monkey and its parent on top of a greenhouse Aug. 12 in the Tsurugai area of neighboring Haramachi Ward.
Shigenori Monma, a 68-year-old squad leader of the association, steadied his gun and fired a blank as a warning shot. The monkeys quickly fled toward the mountains as the shot resonated through the air.
The hunters group started patrolling areas including Odaka and Haramachi wards this month. It is working in shifts, with particular focus on locations where there have been reports of monkey sightings.
Decontamination work is under way in the area, so the hunters are using blanks instead of live ammunition to drive away the monkeys.
The monkeys are believed to be taking over areas formerly inhabited by people after the nuclear disaster. Other animals found in evacuation advisory areas, such as wild boars and raccoons, have also been expanding their habitats.
“Monkeys are eating up all the crops,” Monma said. “We have to take proper measures to combat this.”