National

Faced with crop destruction, Chiba city fosters hunting and serving wild game as enterprise

Kyodo

The city of Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture, has set up a “business school for hunting” that provides courses introducing people to the pursuit of game and encouraging them to consider it as a livelihood.

The city has been battling destruction of its agricultural crops by wild animals such as boar and deer. As more hunters age, it also is looking to attract newcomers.

According to the city, it is rare for a local government to offer courses specializing in hunting as a business opportunity, where professionals teach hunting and cooking game.

“You can make carpaccio for two using this piece of pheasant meat,” said Eisuke Okano, a 39-year-old restaurateur from Tokyo, as he dissected the fowl in front of 26 men and women in the city’s community center and explained the various ways it could be cooked.

“Seeing the moment when an animal becomes food was an unforgettable experience,” said Junichi Nishiba, a 44-year-old office worker who came from Yokohama to take the class. “It is fascinating to learn about hunting from the point of view of the agricultural and food industries.”

According to authorities in Kimitsu, agricultural damage caused in the city by wild animals in fiscal 2017 amounted to ¥460 million — the highest in Chiba Prefecture. More than 4,000 wild boar and deer were captured, but the city’s three meat processing plants could not keep up with the amount of game caught; most of it had to be destroyed.

So the city is seeking to cultivate businesses focused on hunting and game meat, making it a new specialty. Collaborating with an organization in neighboring Saitama Prefecture that fosters hunters, the courses started in April and will continue until next March. The 12 courses taught by field professionals include making and setting traps in mountains, managing wild game restaurants, and making stationery with feathers.

Around 30 percent of the students are from Tokyo and surrounding areas outside of Chiba Prefecture, ranging in age from their 20s to 70s.

“I would be very happy if more people start hunting (nearby) or become interested in game meat. We’d like to continue to provide these courses,” said Tadahiro Okamoto, the chief clerk for the city’s department for agricultural administration.