Hunter in Aomori Pref. Takes on Big Challenge With Bear Sausage Business

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Eigo Mori holds up three prototype packages of bear sausage.

Eigo Mori, 40, a hunter in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, has taken on a bear of a challenge. He began producing and selling “Tsugaru Bear Sausage” as a way of preserving hunting culture and limiting the damage bears do to crops.

Crop damage caused by bears increased sharply in the prefecture last year, while the number of hunters in the area has been declining due to aging.

Mori hopes to help both hunters and farmers through his business.

So their lives won’t be wasted

Tsugaru Bear Sausage makes use of Asiatic black bears that have been killed after encroaching into developed areas — mainly in Hirosaki — and damaging crops.

Mori started Gibier Tsugaru, a company that produces and sells the sausage, in November last year and began selling the sausage in mid-December of 2023.

As a hunter, Mori has been faced with the reality of having to dispose of the remains of bears that had been killed, either by burying or burning them.

Not wanting to waste the precious lives of the animals, Mori came up with a system for Gibier Tsugaru to take in and sell bear meat, which would then be processed into sausages by specialized companies in and outside of the prefecture.

Bear encounters set record

According to the Aomori Prefecture’s nature conservation division, there were 1,133 bear sightings and 10 incidents involving injuries to people last year in the Prefecture, both figures the highest on record. The number of bears captured or killed reached 598, quadrupled that of the previous year.

The damage from food-seeking bears was also serious. Last year, the amount of damage to the property of  Motoi Koyama, an apple farmer in the Kozawa district of Hirosaki, climbed over the ¥1 million mark, more than twice the amount of the previous year.

There are no hunters in that area, and it is impossible for residents to set up traps such as cages.

Koyama said he has high hopes for the Gibier Tsugaru initiative, saying, “It would be helpful if the bears could be used as a local resource, and if people also know it, the number of hunters might increase.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Motoi Koyama points to an apple tree damaged by a bear in Hirosaki City in February.

Protecting farmland with profit

Mori’s goal is to reduce the number of bears that are killed, while protecting farmland.

“The ideal environment is one in which bears can coexist with humans without being killed,” he said.

For his goal, he plans to use part of his profits to set up electric fencing to protect farmland from bears. He also intends to help train future generations of hunters.

Bear sausage is currently sold at the camping goods store Phoenixrise in Gonohemachi, as well as online.

“They are perfect for camping and are selling well,” said Hiroki Akasaka, the store’s representative.