Honshu wolves were abundant in Japan until 1732, when rabies reached the island’s shores. Alongside widescale deforestation and a state-funded culling, the disease ultimately led to wolve’s complete extinction. The last specimen was officially killed in 1905 in Nara prefecture.
Now, in the farmlands near Kisarazu City, they are making a comeback. However, these aren’t the living, breathing wolves we all know (and fear). Rather, it’s a solar-powered robot that’s meant to look like a wolf. And instead of terrorizing Japanese rice farmers, this big, bad wolf is designed to scare off deer, wild boars and other ‘pests’ that have bred uncontrollably ever since wolves disappeared.
— As It Happens (@cbcasithappens) March 6, 2018
The mechanized wolf, officially called “Super Monster Wolf” (SMW), was loaned to the cooperative association JA Kisarazu-shi for the last eight months. Reportedly, the trial has been a resounding success with local farmers happy with the results.
SMW measures 65 centimeters (2.2 feet) in length, which makes it about the size of a real wolf. It’s been adorned with fur, but also with a really weird and menacing-looking face, with angry blood-shot eyes. And I’m sorry to break it to you, but this version doesn’t prance around farms, shrieking and howling. Instead, it’s immobile, much like a scarecrow.
However, it’s infrared sensors alert the bot of any wildlife that comes within a one kilometer (0.6 miles) radius. When it does, it goes full nuclear, emitting a wide range of sounds from classic wolf howls to gunshots — anything to ward off wild boars. Any humans scared to death by SMW can be classed as collateral damage.
Since SMW was installed on July 11, Japanese news outlet The Asahi Shimbun reports that there have been no more signs of wild animals or birds nearby. So, it seems to be working quite nicely. If you’re interested in one for your farm (or evil lair), the Super Monster Wolf will become commercially available in late September for ¥200,000, or $1,810 USD. Quite the price to pay for a high-tech scarecrow, but imagine what an icebreaker this will make at parties.