Schoolgirl Falconer Fights Crows

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    From the April 6 edition of the Nishinippon Shinbun:

    Schoolgirl falconer fights crows

    The prefectural government of Saga, plagued by hordes of crows that attack trash and farms around their offices, has hired a high school student who is known as Japan’s only “schoolgirl falconer”, one Misato Ishibashi (17), a 3rd year at Takeo High School in Takeo City. Saga has entrusted Misato’s falcons with ridding the offices of their crows. Misato, who freely manipulates falcons, often participates in competitions to expel avian pests and the like. After the prefecture received word of her getting top honors in a national competition, governor Yasushi Furukawa sent her the request.

    On the evening of April 4th, Misato brought her 7-year-old male falcon “Momotaro” to the prefectural headquarters for a test flight. When Momotaro was released, dozens of crows burst out of the trees and flew away or tried to hide in the shadows. After several such flights, their cries could no longer be heard. “They won’t be back for a while,” said Misato.

    According to the Saga Produce Support Division, some years ago a flock of crows numbering in excess of 10,000 took up roost in the area surrounding the prefectural offices. They congregate in trash disposal areas, cover roads in their droppings, and make a frenzied feast of farmers’ fruit tree fields. Countermeasures against crows in Saga Prefecture amounted to 66,000,000 yen for the agriculture sector alone, with Saga City accounting for one third of this number.

    It is rare for any government authority in Japan to employ a falconer. The length of work hours and frequency of employment will have to be considered. The prefecture will begin with the area immediately surrounding its offices, and if effective will expand the program to the area around Saga Airport to counteract the so-called “bird strike” which occurs in the area once every 40 years.

    Says Misato with an air of confidence, “The falcon is a divine punishment against crows. When their eyes meet the glare of the falcon, they will definitely not return.” 

    Your translator would like to add that Misato was previously hired by her high school to rid the auditorium of pigeons whose uncontrolled droppings were endangering the heads of students during the graduation ceremony.

    Here’s a story in English about Misato from just after Momotaro was born. She was a fifth-grader then.

    And here is a Japanese television news report about Misato and Momotaro. A demonstration of Momotaro’s power can be viewed at about 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the video.

    Contributor Bio: Avery teaches English somewhere near Takeo. When he is not translating things, he is probably visiting haikyo or researching weird footnotes in Japanese history. He can be reached on Twitter at @ahm.

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