by Allan Richarz August 26, 2019
It is a situation retired professor Naoki Maruyama hopes to fix. The chairman of the Japan Wolf Association, Maruyama believes that the reintroduction of wolves—extinct in Japan for the better part of a century—can help curb the damage caused by deer and restore ecological balance to affected regions of the country.
Historically, owing to migration via land bridges from Asia and Russia, Japan was home to Ezo wolves—found on the northern island of Hokkaido—and Honshu wolves, which inhabited the three other main islands. Changing agricultural needs and fear of rabies in local communities, combined with aggressive hunting policies, gradually led to the extinction of the Ezo wolf in 1889 and Honshu wolf in 1905. Over the intervening century, the wolves’ former prey—deer and boar—flourished.