• Kyodo

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The Tokushima Prefectural Government said Wednesday that a recent attempt to breed storks in the wild had failed after a crow snatched an egg laid in March and any others in the nest were deemed unlikely to hatch.

“There is a possibility that the stork will lay eggs again by May. We ask the public to wait calmly,” an official said.

The iconic species was considered extinct in the wild in Japan by 1971, but efforts have been made to expand stork breeding areas outside Hyogo Prefecture, where the birds have bred in the wild near a facility tasked with rearing them.

The breeding stork pair effectively stopped incubating their eggs Monday, being away from the nest for more than two hours at a time. On Tuesday afternoon, a crow flew away with an egg from the nest and ate it, the prefecture said.

The eggs had been expected to hatch in late April, but the prefectural government announced Wednesday after examining the broken shell that the egg was likely unfertilized.

The local government has not checked if any eggs remain in the nest so as not to disturb the storks. However, it concluded after observing the behavior of the birds and consulting with the rearing facility, Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork, that any remaining eggs are unlikely to hatch.

“The situation is regrettable as many were hoping for the expansion of breeding places in Japan,” said Satoshi Yamagishi, the park’s superintendent.

The bird is designated a special national treasure in Japan.

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