Four People Killed and Eaten by Bears in Japan

Police stepped up patrols around an area of forest in Akita Japan, yesterday, June 18, to keep people from entering the area after a series of deadly attacks by bears.

The bodies of four people killed in bear attacks have been found since late May. All of the victims were people in their 60s and 70s, who ventured into the forest to forage for wild bamboo shoots and other wild foods that are a popular delicacy in the region.

On June 10, hunters killed a 70kg female Asian black bear and found human remains in its stomach. The hair and flesh is believed to have come from a woman whose body was found nearby earlier the same day.

Takeshi Komatsu, a veterinarian with the Kitaakita Municipal Government said that the attacks all occurred in the same area and are likely caused by a single bear. All the attacks occurred within a 2.5km radius.

“After tasting humans, the bear may have learned it can eat us,” Komatsu said.

Professor Toshiki Aoi, of Iwate University, pointed out that it is extremely unusual for that type of bear to eat people.

Police have stepped up patrols due to people ignoring warnings not to enter the area.

Hajime Takahashi, head of the Kazuno Police Station said “The police cannot block everybody who wants to enter the mountain. We hope people will not enter dangerous areas and protect themselves.”

Fatal bear attacks are relatively rare in Japan. While 168 bear attacks were reported in Japan between April 2014 and March 2016, there have been only 8 known fatal attacks from 1979 through to last year.

Hunters with a Asian black bear killed in Akita Prefecture Japan June 13 2016
Hunters examine a bear after killing it after a woman’s body was found nearby.
The body of an Asiatic black bear after it was shot by hunters
The body of a black bear in which human remains were found June 13, 2016.

Learn more about the The Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus).

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