Hokkaido squirrel

Hokkaido squirrels look adorable when they are stuffing their mouths with nuts. They live in holes in trees or bowl-shaped nests made of branches. They do not hibernate in winter and eat acorns and walnuts stored in autumn. They are active at dawn and cannot be seen often during the daytime.

Piping Hare

Piping hare
Hokkaido is the only place in Japan where piping hares distribute. Their main habitats are in the high mountains of the Taisetsu range. The piping hare has a body length of slightly less than 20 cm. Also called a "mouse hare," it squeaks like a mouse. It also looks like a mouse, but it is actually a lagomorph that migrated from the continent in the ice age.


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Piping Hare

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Ezo deer

1. Ezo Deer
The Ezo deer (a subspecies of Sika deer, Cervus Nippon, which can be found throughout Japan) populates every region of Hokkaido with its main habitat in the eastern areas (Tokachi, Kushiro, Nemuro, and Abashiri). Males grow to be 90-190 cm tall and weigh 50-130 kg, while females grow to be 90-150 cm and 25-80 kg. Its summer coat is a light brown and its winter coat a dark gray-brown. The Ezo deer remain secluded in the forests during the day but often go out onto the grassy plains at night to feed.

2. Population
At one point, due to heavy snows and over-hunting in the early Meiji era (1867-1912), Ezo deer were near to extinction. Institution of protection policies and the resultant improved conditions of their habitats led to a dramatically resurgence of the population and range of distribution.

Estimated Population of Ezo Deer in Eastern Hokkaido
1993 Approximately 120,000
2000 Approximately 200,000

3. Accidents Involving Ezo Deer
Traffic accidents
- Nemuro administrative jurisdiction 235 incidents in fiscal year 1998
- Kushiro administrative jurisdiction 266 incidents in fiscal year 2000 246 incidents in fiscal year 2001

Train accidents
- JR Hokkaido, Kushiro branch 282 incidents in 1997 353 incidents in 1998 (all between April and December)
- JR Hokkaido, Asahikawa branch 123 incidents in 1996 131 incidents in 1997

4. Causes of Accidents Involving Ezo Deer
A little over 40 percent of automobile and train collisions with Ezo deer occur in autumn and winter.
- Ezo deer become more active and mobile during the autumn breeding season (October through November)
- They begin migrating in groups to their winter habitat in November and December.
- Because the sun rises late and sets early in the autumn, the hours when deer are migrating overlap with the hours when human commuting is most intense.

5. Measures against Accidents Involving Ezo Deer
Traffic accidents
- Establishment of the Shari Eco-road (a deer pass): underpasses designed for use by wildlife.
- Maintenance of accident-prevention facilities, such as crossing facilities (deer passes, overpasses, etc.), reflecting boards and fences to prevent deer from coming onto roads, and warning signs to alert drivers.

Train accidents
- Reflecting boards for the protection of wild animals
- Dog and cat chemical repellants

6. Crop and Forestry Damage Caused by Ezo Deer
Concerning crop damage, aside from accounting for about half of the damage to pastureland, Ezo deer continue to ravage sugar beet, wheat, white potato, and paddy rice crops. In terms of forestry damage, about 96 percent of damaged areas are tree nurseries, and aside from the damage caused by grazing on the young, reforested tree saplings and new leaves, Ezo deer also strip the bark from trees by scraping their antlers along the trunks. In natural forests, deer grazing adversely affects Japanese elm, Laciniate elm, Ezo-itaya maple, Japanese yew, and other trees.

Eastern region: approximately 2.7 billion yen (fiscal year 2000)
Western region: approximately 900 million yen (fiscal year 2000)

7. Causes of Crop and Forestry Damage by Ezo Deer
Due to a high fertility rate among female deer over age two and the decreasing mortality rate among Ezo deer resulting from warmer winters in recent years, the deer population will increase rapidly, at about 15 to 20 percent annually if Ezo deer are not hunted. (Meaning that the population will double in four to five years!) Furthermore, because its diverse diet includes most varieties of plant life, and its main habitat is in peripheral areas of the forests, the feeding habits of Ezo deer can easily come in conflict with the interests of the agriculture and forestry industries.

8. Measures against Agriculture and Forestry Damage Caused by Ezo Deer
- Building of electric fences and net fences to keep out deer.
- Hunting to thin out the deep population.
- Use of chemical repellants in painted or sprayed form to prevent damage to new and young forestry replantings.
- Deer feedings.

9. Effective Use of Deer Meat
In order to provide for the effective use of meat from hunted deer, the Plan for the Management and Protection of Ezo Deer (Hokkaido, 2002) encourages efforts to improve facilities for the sanitary butchering and distribution of deer meat.

* Eco Network, ed. Hokkaido mori to umi no dobutsutachi [Animals of Hokkaido's Forests and Oceans], Hokkaido Shimbun Sha, 1997.
* Doto chiiki Ezo shika hogo kanri keikaku [Plan for the Management and Protection of Ezo Deer in Eastern Hokkaido], Hokkaido, 1998.
* Ezo shika hogo kanri keikaku [Plan for the Management and Protection of Ezo Deer], Hokkaido, 2000.
* Ezo shika hogo kanri keikaku [Plan for the Management and Protection of Ezo Deer], Hokkaido, 2002
* Ezo Deer Traffic Accident Map (Nemuro administrative jurisdiction, fiscal year 2000), Nemuro, Hokkaido prefectural government branch office
* Kushiro, Hokkaido prefectural government branch office website:
* Kushiro Shimbun
* JR Hokkaido, Asahikawa branch website:
* Kushiro, Hokkaido prefectural government branch office website:
* Hokkaido no kankyo [Environment of Hokkaido], Hokkaido, 2002

Red-Crowned Crane

The Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis), also called the Japanese Crane or Manchurian Crane, is a large crane and is the second rarest crane in the world. (simplified Chinese: 丹顶鹤; traditional Chinese: 丹頂鶴; Hanyu Pinyin: Dāndǐng Hè; Japanese: 丹頂 or タンチョウ, tancho; the Chinese character '丹' means 'red', '頂/顶' means 'crown' and '鶴/鹤' means 'crane'). In East Asia, it is known as a symbol of luck, longevity and fidelity. At 140 cm (55 inches) high, the crane does not make easy prey, for all that it stands out in its natural habitat of marshes and swamps. When it matures, the Red-crowned Crane is snow white with a patch of red skin on its head. This patch of skin becomes bright red when the crane becomes angry or excited. This species is the heaviest crane, typically 7.7-10 kg (17-22 lb)[1], although large Sarus Cranes are taller.[2] The maximum weight a male Red-crowned Crane is known to attain would be 15 kg (33 lbs.)[3]
Closeup of the crane's head
In the spring and summer, the Red-crowned Crane breeds in Siberia and occasionally in northeastern Mongolia (i.e., Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area). Normally the crane lays 2 eggs, with only one surviving. Later, in the fall, it migrates in flocks to Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and other countries in East Asia to spend the winter. All Red-crowned Cranes migrate, except for a flock that is resident in Hokkaidō.
The crane eats small amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, insects, and plants that grow in marshes and swamps.
The habitat used is marshes, riverbanks, rice fields, and other wet areas.
The estimated population of the species is only 1,500 in the wild[4], with about 1,000 in China, making it one of the most endangered species of bird. Nearly all of the Chinese population lives in the Yancheng Coastal Wetlands.
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ran a program where U.S. zoos donated eggs which were flown to Russia and raised in the Khinganski Nature Reserve and released into the wild. This program sent 150 eggs between 1995-2005. The program has been put on hold in order to concentrate on different crane conservation programs in Russia, such as education and fire suppression.(Red-crowned Crane SSP)
In Japan, this crane, known as tancho(丹頂, origins in China), is said to live 1000 years. A pair of Red-crowned Cranes were used in the design for the D series of the 1000 yen note. In the Ainu language, the Red-crowned Crane is known as sarurun kamui or marsh kamui.
In China, the Red-crowned Crane is often featured in myths and legends. In Taoism, the Red-crowned Crane is a symbol of longevity and immortality. In art and literature, immortals are often depicted riding on cranes. A mortal who attains immortality is similarly carried off by a crane. Reflecting this association, Red-crowned Cranes are called xian he, or fairy crane. The Red-crowned Crane is also a symbol of nobility. Depictions of the crane have been found in Shang Dynasty tombs and Zhou Dynasty ceremonial bronzeware. A common theme in later Chinese art is the reclusive scholar who cultivates bamboo and keeps cranes.
Because of its importance in Chinese culture, the Red-crowned Crane was selected by the National Forestry Bureau of the People's Republic of China as its only candidate for the national animal of China. But this decision was deterred because the Red-crowned Crane's Latin name show that is "Japanese Crane".[5]


Premium tuna fetches $100,000 in Tokyo auction

Premium tuna fetches $100,000 in Tokyo auction
By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press Writer Mon Jan 5, 8:13 am ET

TOKYO – Two sushi bar owners paid more than $100,000 for a Japanese bluefin tuna at a Tokyo fish auction Monday, several times the average price and the highest in nearly a decade, market officials said.

The 282-pound (128-kilogram) premium tuna caught off the northern coast of Oma fetched 9.63 million yen ($104,700), the highest since 2001, when another Japanese bluefin tuna brought an all-time record of 20 million yen, market official Takashi Yoshida said.

Yoshida said the extravagant purchase — about $370 per pound ($817 per kilogram) — went to a Hong Kong sushi bar owner and his Japanese competitor who reached a peaceful settlement to share the big fish. The Hong Kong buyer also paid the highest price at last year's new year event at Tokyo's Tsukiji market, the world's largest fish seller, which holds near-daily auctions.

A slightly bigger imported bluefin caught off the eastern United States sold for 1.42 million yen ($15,400) in Monday's auction.

"It was the best tuna of the day, but the price shot up because of the shortage of domestic bluefin," Yoshida said, citing rough weather at the end of December. Buyers vied for only three Oma bluefin tuna Monday, compared to 41 last year.

Typical tuna prices at Tokyo fish markets are less than $25 per pound ($55 per kilogram). But bluefin tuna is considered by gourmets to be the best, and when sliced up into small pieces and served on rice it goes for very high prices in restaurants.

Premium fish — sometimes sliced up while the customers watch — also have advertising value, underscoring a restaurant's quality, like a rare wine.

Due to growing concerns over the impact of commercial fishing on the bluefin variety's survival, members of international tuna conservation organizations, including Japan, have agreed to cut their bluefin catch quota for 2009 by 20 percent to 22,000 tons. - Discount Domain Registration - Make Money Now! - Make a Friend in Japan! - My Blog, Photos, and Videos