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Japanese city to introduce wild boar traps that notify gov't employees of catch by email

A wild boar. (Mainichi/Osamu Sukagawa)

HOKOTA, Ibaraki -- This east Japan city is putting its boar traps online, set to send staff an email when they snag an animal.

    Wild boars' range in Ibaraki Prefecture used to be confined to the north of the base of Mount Tsukuba, but the animals have been spotted in the city of Hokota, east of the mountain, since around fiscal 2009. The boars are wreaking more than 5 million yen (about $46,000) in damage to local agriculture, mostly sweet potatoes, every year. In response, the municipal government commissioned the hunting association to set traps at some 200 locations, and killed 16 wild boars in fiscal 2019.

    However, there has been at least one reported case of a trapped wild boar escaping. The hunting association members check each trap once every three days. But as the average age of the 28 members is over 70 and the city has a lot of hilly territory, the patrol was a physical burden.

    In the new system, a GPS device will be attached to each trap. When a wild boar is caught in a leg-binding trap or other types of snares and struggles, a wire comes off and activates a sensor. A base station installed on the rooftop of the municipal government office catches the radio signal and sends the positional information to employees' smartphones and computers by email.

    Amid concern over swine fever, an infectious disease spread to livestock by wild boars, a city official said, "We'd like to reduce the burden (on association members) and increase the number of kills."

    Hiroshi Sugimoto, the 72-year-old head of the hunting association, welcomed the new system, saying, "It will make it easier as each member will be able to save about an hour on doing the rounds of the traps."

    (Japanese original by Taichi Nemoto, Kashima Local Bureau)

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