NUCLEAR PENINSULA PESTS

Wild boars ‘terrorize’ Tsuruga plants

by Makoto Tai

Kyodo

Host to seven power plants, Tsuruga, a finger of land that juts into the Sea of Japan, has been dubbed “the nuclear power peninsula.” But some local residents are apparently more worried by the growing number of wild boars on the peninsula.

The bulk of the peninsula is designated as a seminational park, and permission to kill any wild animals must be obtained from authorities, including local government officials.

The peninsula in Fukui Prefecture is about 10 km from south to north and about 5 km from east to west at its widest part. The central part is forested and the city of Tsuruga is on the east of the peninsula, while the town of Mihama is to its west.

A company in the city of Fukui that specializes in selling nets and rails to protect crops from birds and animals said there are an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 wild boars on the grounds of the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju and Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga power plant near Tateishi Cape on the tip of the peninsula.

The boars have expanded the areas they inhabit to the city of Fukui.

The city of Tsuruga has been trying to eradicate them by hiring the company to set traps. It caught 360 boars from last April to September, some three times the number trapped during the same period the year before.

In Tsuruga’s Urasoko district, boars weighing more than 100 kg were witnessed emerging from a bamboo thicket.

Crops on farmland along Tsuruga Bay bore marks of boars having nibbled at them. Broken daikon and half-eaten Chinese cabbages were scattered about on the ground. The marauders had left a large number of muddy hoof prints on a nearby road.

A 50-year-old man living in the Urasoko district said: “It looks like a battlefield. I can’t go out because I’m afraid of the boars.”

The Fukui prefectural and Tsuruga municipal governments and Japan Atomic Power Co. are reluctant to allow the use of guns to get rid of the boars for fear of damaging the power facilities, so the traps are being used instead.

Power plant officials said the sound of gunfire might also be mistaken for a “terrorist attack” on the nuclear plants.

Nuclear plants, including those on the Tsuruga Peninsula, have all been built in sparsely populated areas.

Nobuo Kanzaki, a professor of wild animal protection at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said: “Human beings have gone too far into the mountains. There is no other way but for (the boars) to pull out and live separately.”