Japanese authorities urge caution after wild bears attack several people in the northeast

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese authorities have warned residents to be aware of wild bears in the country’s northeast after several people were attacked, including police officers.

A bear about 1 meter (3 feet) in size was captured in Fukushima prefecture Sunday by officials in charge of wildlife damage, according to a Japanese news report that included video of the bear wandering around in a residential area.

An official in Inawashiromachi city in Fukushima, who answered the phone, was not able to provide further information.

The bears were also seen in surrounding areas, including Akita prefecture.

Two police officers were attacked Saturday in the city of Kazuno in Akita while recovering the body of a missing man, Japanese media reported. The man had gone hunting for bamboo shoots in the mountains a few days earlier where he was found dead in the area with gash wounds. It remains unclear if he died due to a bear attack.

The officers are in serious condition, though not life-threatening, reports said.

In response, some wooded areas have been closed off in Kazuno “for an indefinite time,” officials said in a statement. Akita police declined to give more details.

News footage showed police officers putting up signs warning people to stay out of mountainous areas where the bears were sighted.

Over the weekend, patrol cars were dispatched together with a helicopter search to locate the bears.

Akita prefectural police have urged people to keep bells and other noise-producing devices on hand to scare the bears away in case of an encounter, and not to go out at night.

Thousands of Asiatic black bears live in the wild throughout Japan. Attacks have risen as the borders blur between the bears’ habitats and people’s dwellings. The scarcity of acorns, berries and other food, possibly connected to climate change, is also blamed for the surge in bear encounters.


Yuri Kageyama is on X: https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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