Coming off a five-day long weekend (only four for me, thanks to school Sports Day), I stumbled upon a news item on the front page of a newspaper in the staff room and, lo and behold, the same article appeared in the English version of the Yomiuri Shimbun.
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Environment Ministry will likely remove the goshawk from the rare domestic species list as early as next spring because conservation efforts have successfully restored their population, according to sources.
The ministry concluded that the population of goshawks successfully recovered thanks to protection measures in its habitats and will remove the species from the list under the Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Goshawks are regarded as “symbols of nature conservation” for stopping unrestrained land development. The ministry expects opposition toward its planned move, so sources say it plans to carry out protection measures like population surveys.
The goshawk is a bird of prey that grows as large as about 50 centimeters in length, found in forests from Hokkaido to Kyushu. They feed on pigeons and small mammals from their perch at the top of the ecosystem of satoyama woodlands near populated areas.
Goshawk numbers declined as Japan’s economic growth shot up, at a time when there was rapid housing land development. A 1984 survey by the Wild Bird Society of Japan estimated that the nation’s goshawk population stood at only 300 to 480.
Goshawks were subsequently designated a rare species when the Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was enforced in 1993.
The planned sites for the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 and the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture were revised when goshawk nesting areas were confirmed in those areas.
Thanks to these conservation efforts, an Environment Ministry survey in 2008 estimated there were up to 8,950 goshawks.
The ministry began considering the removal of goshawks from the rare species list in 2013 and has consulted with the public. The ministry also sent questionnaires to researchers and experts last summer about the status of goshawks, and, according to sources, decided there was “subsequently no drastic decline” in population numbers and deemed the removal was appropriate.
The Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora obliges owners and possessors of land to “give consideration to the conservation” of designated species at risk of extinction, and in principle bans them from being captured or traded.
There are 130 domestic species on the list, including the Japanese crested ibis, and 688 species are designated as internationally endangered species.
I’m interpreting this as largely good news – “up to 8,950 goshawks” still sounds a small-ish number. I’d be much happier to hear about, say, 8,950 confirmed breeding pairs. I’m also a tad cynical about various lists in Japan which appear to be little more than exactly that – lists. (I suppose we should be thankful that hawks aren’t considered part of food culture since “in principle” rarely translates into “in practice”)
In the meantime, go goshawks!