Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hokkaido wolf

The Hokkaido wolf (Canis Lupus Hattai), known in Japan as the Ezo wolf and in Russia as the Sakhalin wolf, is a possibly extinct subspecies of Canis Lupus native to the Northeast Asian Pacific. The wolf primarily lived on the 2 islands of Hokkaido and Sakhalin, possibly the Kamchatka peninsula, and the Kuril islands such as Iturup and Kunashir. It was viewed as a threat to livestock, which the Meiji government promoted and what the wolves would also do is get into the crops, which was very important. It went extinct on Hokkaido island in 1889 during the Meiji restoration period. The Hokkaido wolf was larger than the Honshu wolf, more approaching the size of a regular gray wolf. The Japanese and Russians poisoned the wolves with chemicals. The Japanese wolf would have been competed by those bears of Japan including the Ussuri brown bear of Hokkaido and Asian black bear of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. The Japanese wolves mainly fed on deer, wild boar, rodents, foxes, raccoon dogs, serow, berries, and maybe even Japanese macaques (Snow monkeys) and Formosan rock macaques. The Ezo wolf mainly feed on deer, boar, rabbits, macaques, the wolverines of Russia, and birds. Wolves have arrived on Japan less than 14,00 years ago. It was classified as a subspecies of the gray wolf since 1931 by a Japanese zoologist named Kyukichi Kishida. These wolves were descended from those mainland Siberian wolves and were usually a light gray or tannish grey color like its mainland relatives. A large number of deer starved to death in 1878 and 1879 because of a heavy snow, having a great negative affect on the wolves. They lived in the mountains as well in the forests and plains. Sakhalin and Kamchatka are both in Russia. The bears that would compete with the Hokkaido wolf are the Ussuri brown bear, Kamchatka brown bear, and the Bergman's bear. The Bergman's bear is also extinct and it weighed heavier than a polar bear and was declared extinct in 1920. The wolves that probably lived in the Amur region would have also been competed with the Siberian tiger and the Amur leopard. The Formosan rock macaque has been introduced to Japan. The Amur or Ussuri region is in Siberia, Manchuria, and Korea. This wolf was mostly grey looking more like its mainland relatives. They also had a reddish brownish collar all the way to its paw. They were slightly bigger than a coyote and Ethiopian wolf. In Spanish, it's called "Lobo de Ezo". Lobo is a Spanish word that means wolf. The Ezo wolf was 3 ft tall at the ear. It was about the same size as those American and Eurasian wolves. A pair of stuffed Ezo wolves including a male killed in August 1879 in Shiroishi-ku and a female killed in June 1881 in Toyohira district are at the Hokkaido botanical gardens university. The Hokkaido wolf was more wolf like in its appearance than the Honshu wolf. Okammi is the Japanese word for wolf. A study of Sakhalin wolf morphology showed that it was similar in size to the gray wolves of the Asian and North American continents. Analysis of their mitochondrial DNA showed them to be identical with gray wolf specimens from Canada, Alaska, and the USA, indicating that the ancestor of the Sakhalin wolf was genetically related to those North American wolves. The Hokkaido wolf separated from the wolves of North America around 5,700-13,700 years ago. Ezo wolves colonized Japan more recently than the Honshu wolves from the Asian mainland during the last glacial period and wolves have arrived on Sakhalin island around 10,000 years ago at the end of the ice age. The Tsugaru strait was 3 km wide during the end of the ice age, which prevented the wolves colonizing Honshu and the Amur region. We gotta resurrect the extinct wolves of the Japanese countryside to restore some balance. The Hokkaido lived in Japan for less than 23 thousand years from the Pleistocene to the Meiji Restoration period. It is claimed that the Hokkaido wolves survived on Sakhalin and the Kuril islands since 1945. The Kurilian government claims that recent sightings are only foxes and domestic dogs. The last Hokkaido specimen was shot in 1889 and it was 1st described in 1931 by a Japanese zoologist named Kyukichi Kishida. Raising the possibility that some may still survive in the remote wilds of Sakhalin. Nobody knows when the last Kamchatka specimen died. According to the Soviet zoologist Vladimir Heptner, the wolves did not live on Sakhalin at the beginning of the 20th century, with vagrant specimens of Siberian forest wolf occasionally crossing into the island via the Nevelskoy Strait, though not permanently setting. A Soviet zoologist named Vladimir Heptner wrote that the wolves of Kamchatka, where the Hokkaido wolf's range is supposed to have encompassed) are just as large as the Eurasian wolf (Canis Lupus Lupus), with light gray fur with dark guard hairs running along the back. If the Ezo wolf is really still alive in Sakhalin, we can reintroduce them back to Hokkaido island. It would have been able to confront with the Sakhalin huskies, Eurasian lynxes, brown bears, and wolverines living in Sakhalin and Kamchatka. The subspecies went extinct because of habitat loss and hunting. The Kurilian government has been claiming that the sightings are dogs since the 1960's. They gave birth of up to 5 to 6 pups. In Ainu culture, wolves were sacrificed in "Sending Away". The lost wolves of Japan that might still exist are probably hybrids.

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