2018 Volume 6 Issue 1 Pages 1-11
In Japan, wildlife management relies heavily on private hunters. This study analyzed the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 on hunters' activities and attitudes. A survey of hunters in 19 prefectures (mainly in eastern Japan) was conducted using a questionnaire in 2012 at hunter training sessions, which hunters are obligated to attend every three years. Of the 26,794 questionnaires distributed, 22,008 (82.1%) were recovered.
Our analysis showed that hunters' concerns about radioactive contamination of the hunting grounds were prominent in Fukushima prefecture, especially along the coast, and in parts of Ibaragi prefecture. Concerns over radioactive contamination of game meat were more broadly shared among hunters over a wider geographic range.
Results showed that hunters were avoiding hunting in several regions. A core area of avoidance was located in the Pacific coastal region of Fukushima prefecture. Significant declines in hunting activity were also found in the Nikko region of Tochigi prefecture and in the southern parts of Miyagi prefecture.
Expansion of wild boar (Sus scrofa) populations has become a management issue. Therefore, hunters' concerns towards radioactive contamination of game meat may have adverse effects on wildlife management, as Sus scrofa has a strong tendency to accumulate nuclear radioactivity and hunters may avoid hunting wild boars even in lower risk areas.
As hunting remains the most viable tool for wildlife management in Japan, management agencies should take action to prevent the decline in hunting activity due to radioactive contamination, for instance, by monitoring radioactive contamination of wildlife, and then organizing the distribution of these data to hunters, thus enable them to hunt with lower risk and contribute to wildlife management through their activities.