Hachioji, Fuchu riverbeds are also being visited…and it’s not just bears! Wild Deers Increasingly Appear on Neighborhoods | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hachioji, Fuchu riverbeds are also being visited…and it’s not just bears! Wild Deers Increasingly Appear on Neighborhoods

Wild deer have expanded their habitat and are now appearing in Tokyo, causing more than 4,400 traffic accidents a year.

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The deer, proud of its magnificent 30-cm horns, strutted through the town in the late afternoon. A housewife and others walking nearby were startled by the sight of a male Ezo sika deer in its breeding season.

If it had happened while climbing a mountain or hiking, they would have been prepared for it, but the deer was walking peacefully in a residential area in Higashi Ward, Sapporo City, where 260,000 people live.

Deer in Higashi-ku, Sapporo, on October 25. The deer was of good size, perhaps storing up nutrients for the winter. After walking around the town, they disappeared toward the Toyohira River.

“On October 24, a deer entered the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden in Chuo-ku and stayed there for more than 10 hours,” said a reporter from a local newspaper.

Hokkaido is not the only place where deer have been spotted. In Tokyo as well, Japanese sika deer have been spotted running along river beds in Hachioji, Hino, and Fuchu Cities. Associate Professor Hiromasa Igota of Dairy Farming University says, 


“According to the Ministry of the Environment, their habitat has increased 2.7 times in the 40 years between 1978 and 2006.”

Even in Ibaraki Prefecture, where the deer are thought to be extinct, sightings have been reported continuously for the past 10 years. The estimated population has increased from 2.18 million to 2.22 million in one year from 2020 to 2021.

The concern is the damage to crops. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), the annual cost of damage caused by deer is estimated to be over 6.1 billion yen (in 2021). In addition, as they descend into human settlements, there is an increased risk of accidents with trains and cars. Last year, more than 4,400 car accidents involving deer alone were reported, including two accidents in which drivers lost their lives after colliding with deer.


“If you encounter a deer in an urban area, you risk losing your life in a non-traffic accident as well.” Mr. Igoda warns.

“Many of them run away when they see humans. However, I once encountered a male deer that was in a temperamental mating season, and he turned his antlers toward me and lunged. He ran away and was not injured. At a facility in Shimane Prefecture, a deer attacked and killed a keeper in October of this year. If you encounter one, please do not approach it and calmly keep your distance.”

While there have been a series of human fatalities caused by bears, even deer have been, can mankind survive nature’s counterattack?

This is a deer that appeared in Sapporo on October 24. There was a scene where it entered a residential area and sat down.

From the November 24 , 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Hokkaido Shimbun, Kyodo News

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