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Efforts Underway to Help License Holders Get Hunting Experience

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Environment Ministry In Chiyoda ward, Tokyo

SAPPORO (Jiji Press) — With Japan facing a growing need for hunters to prevent wildlife damage to agriculture and human lives including by bear attacks, efforts are underway to give hunting opportunities to those who hold licenses but lack experience.

While the number of people who acquire hunting licenses has been on the rise in the country, especially among young people, due to a rise in interest in hunting, that of those who leave their licenses unused has been also on an upward trend.

The number of hunting license holders stood at about 215,000 across the country in 2019, rising by about 30,000 over a decade, according to the Environment Ministry. The number of those younger than 40 more than doubled to some 30,000.

Meanwhile, the share of license holders who complete the additional registration necessary to hunt has stayed at around 60 pct in recent years, meaning there are many inactive hunters.

“The number of hunters is growing but it’s necessary to improve the quality of young hunters because capturing animals such as bears requires a certain level of skill,” said Hiromasa Igota, an expert on hunting management and associate professor at Rakuno Gakuen University in Ebetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture.

The situation prompted Odakyu Electric Railway Co. to launch a business in 2022 to connect farmers suffering damage to agricultural crops with young hunters. The business allows member hunters to borrow items needed for hunting and get experience, such as by setting up traps under the guidance of local hunters. Some 270 hunters had signed up as of Nov. 14, according to the company.

Kazuki Arita, who developed the business, expressed hope that getting young people interested in hunting will lead to more hunters.

There also have been efforts to expand sales channels for game meat.

Fant, a startup in the Hokkaido town of Kamishihoro, has developed an app that matches restaurants seeking meat of wild birds or animals with hunters. Some 1,700 hunters and about 150 restaurants have signed up for the app.

This year, Fant also developed a system that allows farmers to ask hunters directly via the app to capture wild birds and animals. The company held a system demonstration in Sapporo in September. It plans to take the system to other municipalities, too.

“We want to solve young hunters’ problems by using digital transformation,” Fant chief Satsuki Takano said.