Wild Dogs Raid Shimabara Stables; May Be Descendants of Pets Set Loose During 1991 Volcanic Eruption

Wild Dogs in Fukae-machi
Wild dogs. Image captured by a stable’s security camera in Fukae-machi, Shimabara, Nagasaki.

Wild Dogs Raid Shimabara Stables; May Be Descendants of Pets Set Loose During 1991 Volcanic Eruption
Yomiuri Shimbun: 野犬の群れが家畜襲撃…噴火で逃げた犬の子孫か
Keisuke Wakabayashi reporting November 7, 2011

Packs of wild dogs have been continually assaulting calves and goats in the stables of Fukae-machi on Shimabara Peninsula, Nagasaki.

The damages from periodic raids had never been concentrated before, but since this March, there have been 11 incidents around the foot of Mt. Fugen, one of the peaks of Mt. Unzen. Because one of the sites was mere dozens of meters away from an elementary school, the city has dispatched a hunting team in response.

According to the city, the 11 incidents have left 24 calves dead or missing, and 2 goats and 20 chickens have also been eaten. The attacks in March and September were especially serious, and there were two incidents in October. The city estimates the damages have already surpassed 2 million yen.

According to eyewitness accounts from farmers, the dogs move in packs of four to six. After one scopes out a stable, the group attacks as one. They work together to kill calves: while one barks at a calf to get its attention, the others bite it from the back. They roam from night until dawn and only target calves that are separated from their parents, indicating they have a great deal of caution.

Explanations Fukae-machi is being targeted include (1) when Mt. Fugen erupted in 1991, residents who were evacuating released their pet dogs into the wild, and their descendants have stayed there; (2) stray dogs that were fed by town residents may have banded together. City Hall says “the number of dogs in the area has increased year after year, and we think they’re even more numerous now, but that doesn’t explain the sudden rise in attacks this year in particular.”

In mid-September, a 44-year old man set up wire netting and a security camera at the entrances of his two adjoining stables to protect against future attacks after two two-week old male calves held inside a 1m tall, 1.5m wide, 1.5m deep wooden box were eaten. At the end of October, 4 dogs carefully approached the area, and their likenesses were caught on film.

The man said, “They struck on a day when typhoon winds were blowing, and it was difficult to hear. I was uncontrollably angry because I took care of those calves as if they were family. The economic damages were heavy,” he said emphatically. Another livestock owner, a 39-year old who lost a calf in March, argued “if we wait until children and the elderly are attacked, it’ll already be too late. I want to catch them right away.”

The elementary school and kindergarten close to one raid have been warned. Numerous trap boxes have been laid without success. Ranchers are putting up wire netting in an attempt to protect their stables, but there is already evidence that the dogs will dig tunnels under the netting to attack. The city is cooperating with professional hunters and urgently pursuing the dogs.

The city’s public servant in charge of the effort says “I’d like to call citizens’ attention to this problem so we can work on it together and minimize the damage.”












(2011年11月7日10時01分 読売新聞)

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