Introduced animals

Good morning everyone. My name is Stellaluna. I'm a naturalist and I majored in ecology at University. Today I'm going to talk about the issue of introducing animals into Japan, which I have been concerned about. Before I start I'm going to define the word "Introduced animals". "Introduced animals". means animals in the wild which are not native to the area. The number of introduced animals are growing in Japan and all over the world due to the frequent exchange of people, cargoes and the growing pet market. First of all I would like to address why those animals are a problem and after that I would like to suggest feasible solutions.

Firstly, some of them damage native animals and plants directly. For example weasels were introduced into many islands in order to exterminate mice. But as a matter of fact it is easier for them to hunt native birds and reptiles. Thus they drive them to the brink of extinction. Another example, a kind of moth was accidentally introduced into Tokyo after World War 2 and spread widely and now they eat all sorts of tree leaves. In their homeland they have predators but as they are alien here, there are no animals which prey on them and control their numbers. As a result their populations exploded.

Secondly they often compete with their native equivalents and in consequence oppress them. For example, allegedly racoons have been released by pet traders, because although they look cute and are popular, they are by no means tame. They don't only harm farm products, which is also a big problem but also oppress racoon dogs which have a similar niche to them. Both of them are omnivorous and inquisitive and live in the vicinity of human beings and scavenge for kitchen waste. Unfortunately introduced racoons are bigger than native racoon dogs, therefore they have an advantage in the struggle for existence.

There are many problems related to introduced animals but I don't have enough time to state all of them, so I would like to suggest one more point. Exotic pets are a kind of fad but they might have diseases which we haven't experienced yet. For example we have eradicated rabies. But the incubation period of rabies is very long. Sometimes it lasts up to 7 years. Under the current las, they are only isolated in quarantine for several month and I suppose it is not long enough. Recently animal import law was revised and now some animals are prohibited to be imported. That's better than nothing but considering the case of many emerging virus like SARS, AIDS, Ebola hemorrihagic fever, exotic pets can be dangerous even when they are in captivity, let alone in the wild.

So, I've attempted to explain here that something should be done on this issue. First of all, we should have stricter regulations on the importation of animals. Australia is a good model. The country has unique fauna but since the settlement of the first Europeans, it has been intruded by a lot of alien animals and they disturbed the native ecosystem. Now the country is very cautious not to introduce alien animals.

And atnother point is we have already had too many introduced animals which have been damaging the Japanese ecosystem. Five years ago, the Japanese mammal academy appealed that introduced animals should be eradicated because of their impact on the native ecosystem. Following this, there has been movement in the Environment Ministry to sweep racoons, goats, and stray cats and so on from some areas. I believe this will make a difference although far more effort should be done.

But there is also strong opposition. Many people strongly sympathize with those animals. They say it's cruel to kill those animals as it is not their fault forbeing released here. I understand they have a point but still I think we should strike a balance between the casualities of introduced animals and the casualities of native animals. And it is impractical to keep all those introduced animasl in captivity.

In conclusion I believe it is inevitable and urgent to exterminate introduced animals considering their persistent impact on the ecosystem and the critical situation of native animals.

Thank your for listening. I hope next time you will have concerning eyes on stray animals and have second thought before you buy exotic pets.

If you have any questions, I'll be pleased to answer them now.