Suspected bear attack results in man's death in Japan

By Minh Nga   June 24, 2024 | 03:32 pm PT
Police in central Japan are investigating the death of a 58-year-old local man found in a forest with wounds likely inflicted by bears.

The body of Yasuhiro Kobayashi, a construction worker, was discovered in a forest in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan last Friday afternoon by his colleagues after he went missing for one day.

He had significant injuries on his face and back and police are investigating the possibility of a bear attack, NHK reported.

The Asahi Shimbun reported that four individuals were injured by bear attacks in Nagano this month. Consequently, local authorities have issued strict warnings, advising residents to avoid mountainous areas during dawn and dusk, the periods when bears are most active.

The prefecture has issued a "Black Bear Sighting Warning," calling people against entering the mountains at dawn and dusk, during which bears are most active.

In 12 months until March, Japan recorded 210 cases of bear attacks, in which six people were killed, according to official data.

In a report last year, CNN quoted experts as saying that Japan’s bears were increasingly moving from their natural habitats into urban areas in search of food. This shift is thought to be due to climate change affecting the flowering and pollination of their traditional food sources.

Experts also said Japan's aging population and demographic shifts were other factors contributing to the rise of bear attacks.

With a median age of 48, Japan has one of the oldest populations globally, as reported by the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Additionally, younger people are moving to larger cities in search of better job opportunities, impacting rural and urban areas.

The combination of these factors is causing rapid population decline in the rural areas of northern prefectures, which has led to conditions like abandoned farmland and overgrown riverbanks, which facilitate easier access for bears, Tsutomu Mano, a senior research fellow at the Hokkaido Research Organization, told CNN.

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