- 200 people have been harmed by bear attacks in Japan so far this year.
- In the eight months since April, 212 people were reportedly attacked.
- A bear like the notorious OSO18 is especially dangerous if it has developed a taste for flesh.
200 people have been harmed by bear attacks in Japan so far this year, and experts warn that this number will rise as the bears enter their winter hibernation.
In the eight months since April, 212 people were reportedly attacked, including 30 in November alone, according to the environment ministry. Six people perished, one of whom was an angler in Hokkaido, whose partial remains were discovered next to a bear that stood 1.5 meters tall.
The total number of injuries since March is far higher than the record of 158 that was recorded in the 12 months starting in April 2020.
Though experts advised people to stay alert even in the coldest months, Japanese authorities are finding it difficult to handle the increasing number of human-bear encounters as bears have left their natural habitat in search of food.
Bears normally hibernate from late November through spring, but this year’s food shortage means that some animals will continue to hunt, as evidenced by media reports of sightings in late November. A bear like the notorious OSO18 is especially dangerous if it has developed a taste for flesh.
While stores claim to be out of bear repellent, kids in Akita prefecture — the site of about one-third of all encounters nationwide — continue to walk to school with bells meant to frighten the animals.
The environment ministry called the increase in attacks “extraordinary” and advised people to dispose of food waste from their homes properly and to keep their doors closed.
Japan’s bear population is increasing; according to a recent estimate, there are 44,000 black bears in the country, up from 15,000 in 2012. On the other hand, the number of Ussuri brown bears, estimated to number 12,000 in Hokkaido, has more than doubled since 1990.