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First wild Oriental storks born in east Japan wetland get special residence certificates

Wataru, right, and Yu, left, are seen hunting for food in a fallow field in the city of Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture, on Aug. 23, 2020, in this image taken by the Watarase future fund's Akihiko Aoki, provided by the Oyama Municipal Government.
The special residence certificate issued to female Oriental stork Yu is seen in this image provided by the Oyama Municipal Government.

KUMAGAYA, Saitama -- Special certificates of residency for two Oriental storks that live in the Watarase Yusuichi wetland park area spanning four east Japan prefectures were issued on Sept. 1 by six municipalities including the Saitama Prefecture city of Kazo.

    The birds, male Wataru and female Yu, are designated by the national government as natural monuments. They are believed to have been born on May 30 in the wetland park area. The other municipalities involved in issuing the documents are the city of Koga in Ibaraki Prefecture, the Tochigi Prefectural cities of Tochigi and Oyama, as well as the town of Nogi, and the Gunma Prefecture town Itakura. The certificates are on display in places including the first floor of the city government office in Kazo.

    Oriental storks are carnivorous birds and require a natural environment rich in fish and frogs to breed. Amid joint efforts by municipalities in which the Watarase Yusuichi wetland park lies to improve the environment, the Oyama Municipal Government suggested issuing a joint residence certificate for the birds. A senior official in the Kazo Municipal Government's Environmental Policy Division commented, "We all wish to watch the young birds grow."

    In 1971, wild Oriental storks became extinct in Japan. Following the release of the birds back into the wild as part of breeding efforts, it was confirmed that the birds have been reproducing in the wild since 2007, but Wataru and Yu are the first chicks to be born in eastern Japan.

    (Japanese original by Reiko Oka, Kumagaya Bureau)

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