On the edge of a woodsy Nagano Prefecture road, the Picchio Wildlife Research Center team held the perimeter and yelled instructions. A young college intern yanked on a rope tied to a metallic, drum-like container, and, suddenly, a 55-kilogram Japanese black bear bolted from its door.
Another team member shot a projectile skyward. It thunderously exploded in a smoky cloud. The startled bear dashed through the thick green foliage and disappeared down a steep valley.
A fearless black-and-white Karelian Bear Dog and her handler trailed after it to confirm the escape. Fortunately, since the bear was heading away from residential areas, the dog and her handler returned quickly. This late afternoon release in the mountains above Karuizawa was a scary but positive end to the bear’s experience.
It was also a textbook example of a safe wild animal release designed to condition local bears to avoid people.
Trapping in Japan
The same bear had stepped into a snare trap set up near an isolated farm earlier that morning. Across Japan, as wild deer and boar populations grow, farmers and hunters use traps to limit their numbers and reduce damage to fields and various habitats.
These snares capture wildlife indiscriminately, sometimes even wandering pets.
Most animals caught in them can suffer for hours or even days before they are killed. The snares encircle the legs, paws or snouts of panicked creatures, cutting off blood circulation as they struggle. A small number manage to escape with a lost limb.
Luckily for this bear, the hunter who discovered it contacted a local government official who called Picchio and asked their specialists to collect the bear and release …continue reading