Monkey-hunting team accidentally shoot woman with tranquilliser dart while chasing animal in Japan


A team of inept monkey hunters in Japan accidentally shot a woman who had reported a monkey to them with a tranquilliser dart yesterday afternoon.

The incident occurred in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture after several witnesses reported seeing the macaque near Fujikawa Station, Sora News 24 report.

Three municipal employees and one monkey-hunting specialist armed with tranquilliser rifles were dispatched to the scene to take the monkey down.

Upon arrival, as they spoke with the unfortunate woman who was giving them details as to the rogue monkey’s whereabouts, one of the team accidentally shot her in the arm with a tranquilliser dart.

City officials explained that one of the hunter’s fingers slipped while taping the barrel of their rifle to prevent air leakage and pulled the trigger, with the barrel pointed at the helpful woman.

A monkey was spotted in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, yesterday and a team was quickly dispatched to take it down

A monkey was spotted in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, yesterday and a team was quickly dispatched to take it down

The team ended up shooting a local woman helpfully directing them to the monkey's whereabouts in the arm with enough tranquilliser to take down a 15km monkey

The team ended up shooting a local woman helpfully directing them to the monkey’s whereabouts in the arm with enough tranquilliser to take down a 15km monkey

City officials explained that one of the hunter's finger slipped and pulled the trigger while taping the barrels of their rifles to prevent air leakage, with the barrel pointed at the helpful woman

City officials explained that one of the hunter’s finger slipped and pulled the trigger while taping the barrels of their rifles to prevent air leakage, with the barrel pointed at the helpful woman

Several witnesses reported seeing the macaque near Fujikawa Station, Sora News 24 report

Several witnesses reported seeing the macaque near Fujikawa Station, Sora News 24 report

Enough sedative to knock out a 33lb (15kg) monkey flooded into her bloodstream and put her to sleep almost immediately.

The hapless monkey-hunting team rushed the woman to hospital, where she woke up an hour later – although it was still another hour before she was lucid enough to properly express herself.

She suffered no injuries and was released later that day. The monkey remains at large. 

The incident raised questions about the competence of their monkey-hunters and the Fuji City government issued an apology to the woman.

They promised a full investigation into the incident and policy review to prevent accidental discharges from happening again. 

The incident comes amid an ongoing wave of monkey attacks that have rocked Japan in recent weeks, leaving city dwellers fearful.

Over a scorching summer, more than 60 people – including children and the elderly -have been reported attacked and injured by macaque in Yamaguchi city, with some victims asleep in their beds when attacked.

The first reported Japanese macaque attack came on July 8 when the primate climbed into a flat in Yamaguchi city’s Ogori district and tried to drag a baby out of the window, inflicting several wounds.

The baby’s mother said she was alerted by her child’s screams and shooed the monkey away, before calling on authorities to catch the animal ‘as soon as possible’.

Attacks by rampaging Japanese macaques (pictured, file photo) have left 60 people injured in the Japanese city of Yamaguchi, with local authorities turning to tranquilliser guns to bring them under control

Attacks by rampaging Japanese macaques (pictured, file photo) have left 60 people injured in the Japanese city of Yamaguchi, with local authorities turning to tranquilliser guns to bring them under control

Officials said the spate of monkey attacks in Japan's Yamaguchi city (pictured) in western Japan is unusual, with adults and children suffering wounds including scratches and bites

Officials said the spate of monkey attacks in Japan’s Yamaguchi city (pictured) in western Japan is unusual, with adults and children suffering wounds including scratches and bites

‘It had grabbed her by the legs while she was playing on the floor. It looked like it was trying to drag her outside,’ she told local news outlets.

Reports suggest the monkey went onto attack another five people in the same district before entering a primary school on July 11, where it scratched one pupil, and then attacked a four-year-old girl three days later in a nearby nursery. 

In another case, one father told the Mainichi Shimbun daily: ‘I heard crying coming from the ground floor so I hurried down. Then I saw a monkey hunching over my child.’ 

A team of ‘specially commissioned hunters’ even tracked down and euthanised one particularly vicious monkey, thought to have been part of a ‘monkey gang’ responsible for over 50 attacks.

‘It’s rare to see this many attacks in a short period of time,’ said one city official, declining to give their name. ‘Initially only children and women were attacked. Recently elderly people and adult men have been targeted too.’ 

‘Eyewitnesses describe monkeys of different sizes, and even after the capture, we’ve been getting reports of new attacks,’ the official added.

Japanese macaques are seen commonly across large parts of the country, and are a pest in some areas, eating crops and even entering homes.

But the spate of attacks in Yamaguchi is unusual, with some residents telling local media that they are now carrying umbrellas and tree-cutting scissors to defend themselves.

‘Initially only children and women were attacked. Recently elderly people and adult men have been targeted too,’ the official said.

Conflict between humans and Japanese macaques, the northernmost species of non-human primates, has been increasing in Japan for decades.

Once on the endangered species list, the government banned the hunting of Japanese macaques after the end of the war and their numbers steadily climbed.

This was also helped by the loss of their main two predators, with the mountain hawk-eagle itself endangered and the Japanese wolf now extinct.  

According to a study published April 2021 in the journal Mammal Study, Japan’s changing demographics could also be contributing to increasing conflict between macaques and humans.

Over the past 50 years, people have migrated away from the old traditional rural villages to the cities, abandoning them to exploding monkey populations, the report speculates.



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