Spring in Yezo deer’s step after hard winter, but danger never far
The Asahi Shimbun by Masatoshi Narayama/ Staff Writer March 23, 2018
A herd of Yezo deer graze peacefully in Wakkanai, Hokkaido, at sunset on March 21 with Mount Rishirizan, nicknamed Mount Rishiri Fuji, seen in the background. (Masatoshi Narayama)
An estimated 700 to 800 deer in numerous groups of between 10 and 30 were seen dispersed in spots along tens of kilometers of road in the Sarobetsu wilderness on the Sea of Japan coast on the evening of March 21.
Some of the graceful creatures strolled on the beach on the edge of the wilderness, which is in the Soya district, northern Hokkaido.
It snowed so much this winter that the deer were forced to eat tree bark to survive.
Although spring has arrived, the graceful animals cannot get too comfortable. They are doomed to be targeted through March 31 as hunters move through the Soya district after pursuing deer on the coast in the season there that ended Feb. 28.
Even after the hunters have departed, Yezo deer will remain exposed to the risk of being killed as authorities and farmers seek to control their numbers to protect crops and the natural environment, and to lower risks of road accidents.
A herd of Yezo deer move to a beach searching for grass to graze on in Wakkanai, Hokkaido, on the evening of March 21. (Masatoshi Narayama)
Yezo deer graze in a field where the snow has just started to melt in Toyotomi, Hokkaido, on March 21. (Masatoshi Narayama)