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Monkeys caused at least 850 million yen worth of damage to Japan’s agricultural produce during fiscal 1999, an animal protection body said in a survey released Wednesday.

Indeed, the figure may even have surpassed the 1 billion yen mark since around 40 percent of the cities, towns and villages surveyed provided no statistics, the group said.

Results of the survey, conducted by the All Life In a Viable Environment (ALIVE) organization, show that nearly 20 percent of local autonomous bodies used exterminatory methods to get rid of monkeys, without taking any nonfatal preventive measures, such as setting up fences.

ALIVE sent questionnaires to 506 local governments in 41 prefectures in order to ascertain the damage caused by monkeys, along with the preventive measures taken against them, during the fiscal year to March 31, 2000.

All of the governments surveyed deploy some form of monkey extermination policy, the survey shows.

Of the cities, towns and villages surveyed, 150 said vegetables were damaged by monkeys and 132 said their rice plants were damaged.

The specter of monkeys feasting on potato crops was reported by 118 local entities, while 97 reported monkey damage to shiitake.

Regarding specific preventive measures, 217 local entities said they use fences or nets to ward off the monkeys, while 209 said they just try to scare them away, according to the survey.

Electric fences are used by 203 local entities to protect their agricultural land.

Only 18 local governments deployed measures that posed no physical harm to the monkeys, such as protecting their habitat in order to discourage them from raiding farms, it said.

The overall cost of these preventive methods reached some 245 million yen, while the cost of monkey extermination — including money paid to local hunting groups — totaled 193 million yen, the survey shows.

Some 74 local governments said they just kill the monkeys and use no specific preventive measures.

ALIVE leader Fusako Nogami figured: “No meaningful effect can be attained simply by resorting to exterminating the monkeys. Money should be spent on measures that would be truly effective.”

Monkeys inhabit large areas of the Japanese archipelago ranging from Aomori Prefecture to Kagoshima Prefecture.

Monkeys started causing noticeable damage to farm produce in the 1970s, and some 10,000 have been exterminated annually during recent years.

They live in troupes of up to 100.

Wildlife experts say that if the slaughter continues at this rate, the monkeys could become extinct “soon” in the Tohoku region.

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