Tokyo: Residents of neighboring resort towns
in central Japan are waging a battle against a marauding
monkey that has bitten dozens of people in the past few weeks,
and the monkey is winning.
Nearly 60 people in the towns of Mishima and Susono near
the scenic Izu peninsula and Mount Fuji have been chomped by
the macaque since mid-August, mostly on the calves. Mishima
now publishes a daily ""biting monkey" alert on the town
website, posting where the animal was most recently spotted
and warning residents to keep doors and windows shut.
Fed up with the troublemaker, a group of about 130
officials including police and zookeepers conducted a massive
monkey hunt today in hopes of capturing the animal. Despite
the show of force -- many came armed with binoculars, nets and
tranquilizer guns -- the search was fruitless.
"We ended up not being able to catch a monkey, or find
one, today," Susono town official Yuki Omori said.
He noted that no attacks have been reported since Friday,
and officials suspect the monkey may have retreated to the
wooded mountainside on the Mishima side, where it is believed
to have come from.
"Local monkeys have caused crop damage in the past, but
they are usually peaceful and never have attacked people,"
Omori said. "It must have come from outside the town."
Officials in Mishima are continuing their monkey watch
and have set up traps in case the animal returns.
The monkey is a type of macaque that is one of the most
common wild mammals in Japan and can reach nearly a meter tall
when standing on its hind legs.