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Hunter shoots rare stork by mistake

KYODO — An oriental white stork, a species designated as a special national treasure, was mistakenly killed Friday by a hunter in Shimane Prefecture, the local police and education board said.

The education board said that a member of a hunting group shot the female stork after mistaking it for a heron.

The Unnan City Education Board said the 5-year-old stork laid eggs in March and that four had hatched so far.

Since Japan’s wild storks disappeared in 1971, this was only the second such hatching in the wild that was not part of the breeding project in and around Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture.

Since 2007, the large black-and-white birds with long beaks, necks and legs have been breeding in the wild around Toyooka, home to a major rearing facility called the Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork.

Satoshi Yamagishi, head of the park, said the accident was very regrettable.

“I can guess how local people waiting for the fledglings feel,” he said, adding that he hopes the chicks grow up safely.

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