Thursday

Hokkaido Wolf

The Hokkaido Wolf (Canis lupus hattai (蝦夷狼, Ezo-ōkami)), also known as the Ezo Wolf, is one of the two extinct subspecies of Canis lupus that have been called the Japanese Wolf. The other is the Honshū Wolf.

This endemic wolf of Japan occupied the island of Hokkaidō. The Hokkaido Wolf was larger than the Honshū Wolf, more closely approaching the size of a regular Gray Wolf.

The Hokkaido Wolf became extinct during the Meiji restoration period. The wolf was deemed a threat to ranching (which the Meiji government promoted at the time) and targeted via a bounty system and a direct chemical extermination campaign. Hokkaido experienced significant development during this period and the Hokkaido Wolf also suffered from resulting environmental disruption.

The wolf was afforded a benign, rather than malignant, place in Japanese mythology and religion: the clan leader Fujiwara no Hidehira was said to have been raised by wolves, and the wolf is often symbolically linked with mountain kami in Shinto (the most famous example being the wolf kami of Mitsumine Shrine in the town of Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture) on Honshū island.

Sightings of the Hokkaido Wolf have been claimed from the time of its extinction to the present day, but none of these have been verified.

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