Wakayama officials drown wild monkeys

Unauthorized, unlicensed massacre possibly violated wildlife protection law


About 20 monkeys have been drowned by town and tourism officials in Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, because they had been pestering locals, prefectural officials said Thursday.

The monkey massacre could be a violation of the Wildlife Protection and Hunting Law because the officials were not licensed to hunt and kill the animals.

A local official said Shirahama had asked a licensed local hunters association to cull the monkeys, which had been living in and around a defunct monkey park. However, three town employees have captured and killed monkeys since July 2003.

Residents had complained that the monkeys were frightening kids at nurseries and eating produce, the official said.

Wakayama Prefecture has questioned the three officials and a member of the Tsubaki hot spring tourism association, which managed the monkey park, and is considering pursuing criminal charges against them, the prefectural officials said.

Unlicensed hunting carries a fine of up to 1 million yen or a one-year prison term under the Wildlife Protection and Hunting Law.

The four have admitted killing the monkeys without obtaining permission from the prefecture, as required by law, the officials said.

According to the prefecture, the tourism association member has killed about 10 monkeys inside the park over the past several years. The town officials have killed nine monkeys outside the park since July 2003.

In each case, the monkeys were trapped in cages, then drowned, the prefectural officials said.

“I decided to kill the monkeys on my own because feral monkeys could harm humans,” the tourism association member was quoted as saying.