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Smart wild boar trap system tested in Chiba Pref. to fight crop damage

A trap utilizing information and communications technology is seen with its user, Akihiro Yamano, right, in the city of Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture. (Mainichi/Kenichi Katoono)

KISARAZU, Chiba -- Testing of a system to efficiently trap wild boars and send cage monitoring information to smartphones has begun in the city of Kisarazu southeast of Tokyo, where the animals have caused extensive crop damage.

The Kizarazu Municipal Government teamed up with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. (NTT East) to set the cages, which officials plan to test for a year. They hope the system will help reduce crop damage by boars, and that the captured animals can be processed as wild game.

The cages come with a feeding machine to lure wild boars inside, which was developed by Yuta Mochizuki, 20, a student at the National Institute of Technology, Kisarazu College, in response to a call from the city and NTT East. A local hunting association, farmers and a wild game processing company also cooperated.

Two of the cages, each 1.5 meters long, 1 meter wide and 0.8 meter high, were set in the experiment. One of them was placed on a hill behind the house of Akihiro Yamano, 51, who produces organic rice in the city. Monitoring cameras which perceive the animals through infrared sensors were also set around the cages. Video footage taken by the cameras is sent to Yamano's smartphone.

According to NTT East, regular feeding by the automatic machine will increase the capture rate and people will not need to make the rounds to check whether animals have been trapped or not. Accumulated data and information from a geographical information system will be used to decide where the operator should set traps to catch animals efficiently.

Wild boars are responsible for 60 percent of the crop damage caused by birds and animals in the city. Last fiscal year, the number of wild boars captured as of the end of February reached 937, which is more than double the 387 captured in fiscal 2017. The damage is estimated to have cost farmers more than 22 million yen -- 2.5 times the level seen five years ago.

Yamano, whose rice fields span 0.8 hectares, said, "I couldn't get a good harvest of rice last year because wild boars damaged the fields. I want to prevent damage with this advanced technology."

(Japanese original by Kenichi Katoono, Kisarazu Local Bureau)

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