FY2020 feeding damage up 2%, stronger measures needed: Farm Ministry

TOKYO, Dec. 7 – Nationwide damage to agricultural products by wild birds and animals in Japan was 16.19 billion yen in the fiscal year 2021, up 2% from the year earlier, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF). The increase is attributable mainly to the rise in crop damage by deer in Hokkaido, while the damage by wild boars also rose in some areas. MAFF called on prefecture and municipal governments to reinforce measures by implementing an intensive nationwide campaign to catch wild birds and animals that can cause agricultural damage in the fiscal year 2021.

The wildlife damage in Japan once declined for six consecutive years to hit the bottom at 15.78 billion yen in the fiscal year 2018. However, since then, the number has been growing. By types of birds and animals, deer damage rose 6% to 5.64 billion yen, while wild boar damage was down 1% to 4.55 billion yen in the fiscal year 2020.

Deer damage grew primarily in the northernmost island, Hokkaido, in which deer were responsible for 4.02 billion yen in damage, up 8%. According to the prefecture, it used to see a lot of damage to pasture. However, as the deer habitat expanded from the eastern part of the island to the western part, it started to see more crop damage, which unfortunately has a higher economic impact on farmers. The pasture loss still accounted for approximately 40% of the total agricultural damage, but it decreased by 6% in value. Damage to sugar beets rose 29%, potato 44%, and other root vegetables 31%.

The wild boar damage dropped slightly nationwide but rose sharply in some prefectures. It rose 230% to 190.83 million yen in Nagasaki Prefecture; 240% to 124.86 million yen in Niigata Prefecture; 38% to 133.83 million yen in Saga Prefecture; 30% to 104.92 million yen in Miyagi Prefecture; and 26% to 93.64 million yen in Yamagata Prefecture. The latter two prefectures are in the northeastern region of Japan. In Kyushu, the most southerly of the four largest islands of Japan, wild boar habitat ranges expanded into areas with fewer measures against animal intrusions. In other prefectures, the number of wild boars increased as more survived the winter of the fiscal year 2020, with less snow.

In November this year, MAFF launched the campaign to reduce the number of animals with goals set for each prefecture regarding the number of catches and target regions. In the fiscal year 2021, the ministry aims to catch 1.44 million deer and wild boars nationwide, 9% more than the previous year’s catches. The ministry re-emphasized the importance of prefecture and municipal governments’ efforts to catch animals and install additional guard rails.

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