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We started in April 1987 as the Kitami Chapter of the Wild Bird Society of Japan, since our membership was made up of wild bird lovers living mainly in Kitami, Hokkaido. Since then, members from other areas also started to join and our activities took on a wider perspective. Then on the occasion of our 10th anniversary in April 1997, we changed our name and became the Okhotsk Chapter.
At present, the Okhotsk Chapter is run by 10 staff members, all volunteers. We do not have an office that requires maintenance expenses or permanent staff members. All work that volunteers do to support our group is done at their homes.
When the Kitami Chapter was first established, it had about 30 members, but by the late 1990s, it had grown to over 200. After that, the number declined for a while until the first half of 2006 when we went from a low of 187 to over 200 again. Now, as of February 2014, we have 241 members, including 53 family members, and we were even able to lower our annual membership dues from 2,000 to 1,500 yen from 2010.
In recent years, a larger portion of our membership has been coming from residents of Tokyo and other areas outside Hokkaido, and more local residents have also been joining. As of the end of February 2012, 73% of our membership was from the Okhotsk (Abashiri Sub-prefecture) region, 10% from other areas of Hokkaido, and 17% from outside Hokkaido. In our area, 71 members live in Kitami, 44 in Abashiri, 11 in Mombetsu, 9 in Engaru, 8 in Yubetsu, 7 in Shari, 5 each in Oketo and Bihoro, 4 in Takinoue, 3 in Ozora, 2 in Koshimizu, and 1 each in Oomu and Tsubetsu. Most of our members are middle-aged or older, and many couples who have joined are active participants. We have not had many young members in the past, but in recent years students from the Okhotsk Campus of the Tokyo University of Agriculture have been participating more often. We do not as yet have any overseas members, but any of you who live overseas are more than welcome to join, too. (Membership in the Okhotsk Chapter requires membership in the WBSJ as well which has its own dues. Please contact us by email if you wish to join.)
|Birding near the top of Mt. Mokoto, 1000 meters elevation (12 July 2009)|