Monkey attacks injure 42 people in Japanese city

Monkey attacks injure 42 people in Japanese city

Authorities in Yamaguchi to use tranquilliser guns after macaques – or possibly one aggressive individual – uncharacteristically target adults and children

Japanese macaque

Local authorities in a Japanese city are to use tranquilliser guns to confront marauding monkeys that have injured 42 people in recent weeks.

Japanese macaques are common across large parts of the country and are a pest in some areas, eating crops and sometimes entering homes. But a spate of monkey attacks in Yamaguchi in the west of the country has been unusual, with adults and children suffering wounds including scratches and bites.

“All of Yamaguchi city is surrounded by mountains and it’s not rare to see monkeys,” said a city official from the agricultural department, who declined to give her name. “But it’s rare to see this many attacks in a short period of time.”

The injuries have so far been largely mild, but authorities are turning to tranquilliser guns after traps they set failed to snare any of the monkeys. “Initially, only children and women were attacked. Recently, elderly people and adult men have been targeted too,” the official said.

The city is not sure if the attacks are the work of multiple monkeys or a single aggressive individual. The intruders have in some cases entered houses by sliding open screen doors, or going through windows.

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City officials and police have been patrolling the area since the first attacks around 8 July but have yet to capture any monkeys.

The story has made headlines in Japan in recent weeks, with people reporting regular invasions. “I heard crying coming from the ground floor so I hurried down,” one father told the Mainichi Shimbun daily. “Then I saw a monkey hunching over my child.”