Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raccoons Invade Japan...!

Sometimes the best of intentions can cause the biggest of problems. This story is a fine example of just such a case!

Now for most of us in the states, raccoons are not that big a deal. However, if you are not prepared for the damage they can and will do it can become a big problem very quickly.

The Cartoon That Launched A Raccoon Invasion
By Nolan Moore on Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baby raccoons might look cute, but when they grow up, they start getting a tad unruly. After all, they’re wild animals. That’s something the Japanese learned the hard way after a popular cartoon encouraged kids to adopt the little critters as pets. When the families tired of them, many were released into the wild although they are not native to Japan. They have been wreaking absolute havoc on the ecosystem ever since.

When you think about Japanese animals, you probably imagine macaques, cranes, or Pikachus. Chances are good you don’t think about raccoons . . . unless, perhaps, you’re Japanese. As it turns out, the Land of the Rising Sun is infested with these North American mammals. These masked troublemakers spend their evenings creeping into homes, eating crops, and just generally wrecking the environment. And it’s all thanks to a little Wisconsin boy named Sterling North.

During the 1910s, Sterling found an orphaned raccoon and decided to adopt it. Sterling named his new pet Rascal, and the two spent a magical year together, roaming through the woods, fishing in nearby streams, and riding on Sterling’s bike. (Rascal sat up front in the basket.) However, things got trickier as Rascal grew older. He started killing the neighbor’s chickens and showed interest in hanging out with other raccoons. Eventually, Sterling freed Rascal in a nearby forest and wrote a story about their friendship, a 1963 tale called Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era.

Since the sappy story was full of children and cute animals, Disney snatched it up and put it on the silver screen in 1969. In 1977, a Japanese company followed suit, turning Sterling’s book into an anime series called Araiguma Rasukaru. And that’s when the trouble really started. The show was a hit, but Japanese children seemingly skipped the parts about raccoons growing up to be mischievous monsters. Instead, all they saw was a little boy frolicking with a cute pet. Suddenly, raccoons became the number one pet in Japan. In fact, they were so popular that, at one point, 1,500 were imported into the country every year. That’s a lot of raccoons.

As you might assume, this didn’t end well. Quite a few children released their pets, and other raccoons escaped on their own. Eventually, the mammals started spreading out, and even though the government eventually banned any more raccoons from entering the country, it was too little too late. By 2004, the masked bandits had infested 42 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, and since there aren’t any creatures around that can eat them, it’s only a matter of time before their invasion is complete.

So how exactly has the raccoon invasion affected Japan? Well, the pests help themselves to any crops they can find like corn, melons, strawberries, and rice. They regularly rob fish farms and steal cattle feed. In the cities, they raid garbage cans and snatch carp out of koi ponds. When they need a place to stay, they often creep inside human homes, and it’s estimated they’ve damaged over 80 percent of Japan’s temples. Even worse, they’re pushing out native species and threatening others with extinction. One of their favorite meals is the Tokyo salamander which is considered threatened, and in 1997, they chased a group of grey herons out of their traditional breeding grounds in Nopporo Forest Park. The birds haven’t come back since.

Desperate for solutions, the government announced a plan to cull the raccoons in 2004, but things didn’t exactly work out. Because people don’t like killing cute and cuddly creatures, there was a huge public outcry. Sadly, it looks like raccoons are now a permanent part of the Japanese ecosystem—an ecosystem they’re slowly destroying. But hey, at least they look adorable while doing it.

Guess the folks in Japan should come to the southern states and learn about 'coons first hand! I wonder if they need us to send them a few 'Coon dogs?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Back up to 70 again today!


Mamahen said...

Wow...I had no idea! Hubby still has his copy of Rascal . Wait till I tell him what that little critter here again today..I'll meet you on the patio :))

Sixbears said...

Looks like they need a good recipe.

A farm in town puts up signs each year: buy our corn, 1000 racoons can't be wrong.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I thought that the Japanese were a really intelligent culture but to import coons pretty much lowers them to the bottom of the list. One of the most destructive pests around here that kill other animals and destroy crops. Everyone I can find gets killed and they are still everywhere. Disney has created a global religion of animal worshipers.

Chickenmom said...

I had totally forgotten about that book! I'm with SF - they are a terrible pest! They breed like rabbits. The only thing they are good for are warm hats!

linda m said...

The only good "coon" is one that is in the pot. My hubby's great uncle used to host a "coon feed" every year. I never went (they still hold it today. Just can't see eating something that thrives on garbage. But everyone says they taste like chicken. Can't say much for the intelligence of a people that would import such a destructive creature just because they think it looks cute. Oh well, coffee outside sounds good. I'll see you there.

Gorges Smythe said...

I'm with Sixbears. If you like squirrel or wild rabbit, you'll like coon.

edifice rex said...

Wow! I had no idea. They really need to get over their idea of "cuteness" and get rid of those pests.

JO said...

They sure are trouble. Once they get into your house you better not waste anytime getting rid of them. They will eat wiring, wallboard pvc pipe and lots more leaving you home in ruin.

We had a Bobcat sighting in the Village this morning. Lack of water is bringing then into neighborhoods.

Coffee outdoors sounds great.

Dizzy-Dick said...

If you think that is bad, just look at the list of all non-native creatures that are imported into the U.S. just to be sold as exotic pets. Many scape into the wild.

HermitJim said...

Hey Mamahen...
Funny how something like this gets started, isn't it? Now they know how we feel with all the "harmless" imports we get!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Sixbears...
I do like the farmer's sign! Gotta have a sense of humor about things.

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Sunnybrook...
They can sure do some damage, that's a fact!

Thanks for the visit today!

Hey Phyllis...
If only the Japanese knew what we all know!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda M...
They probably had no idea what they were starting. Hindsight is 20/20, so they say!

Thanks for stopping by this morning!

Hey Gorges...
Better in the pot than in the field!

They grill up pretty good as well!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Anne...
Cute doesn't always mean harmless! But most of us already know that!

I sure appreciate you coming over today!

Hey Jo...
Yep! Having one in the house is NOT a good thing!

Watch out for those critters now, ya hear?

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Hey Dizzy...
Boy, you are sure right about that! Cudzu comes to mind right off the bat, along with the Nutra!

Thanks for coming by today!

Bob Mc said...

People never learn. Importing non-native wildlife seldom works out for the good. Rabbits in Australia and grey squirrels in England are 2 that I can think of at the moment. I didn't know about the coons in Japan.

Hermit Ladee said...

It's hard for me to feel too sorry for them. After all, we've been dealing with kudzu, Asian Lady Beetles, Japanese Beetles, Asian Carp,etc for years. Pay back... it's a bitch, huh?