Japan Ministry Sounds Alarm Over Hungry Bears in Spring; May Attack People After Coming Out of Hibernation

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A bear runs toward a forest on April 9 in Akita City.

The Environment Ministry is warning that hungry bears may return to human communities in the spring after hibernating and attack people.

At a meeting of related ministries and agencies on Thursday, the Environment Ministry said it would send a notice to prefectural offices as early as this month, alerting them against bears coming out of their winter sleep. The meeting was held in response to the record number of human casualties from bear attacks last fiscal year.

According to a report presented at the meeting, six people were killed by bears nationwide. Including the injured, the total number of victims was 219, with about 70% of them attacked in the Tohoku region.

Bear sightings are believed to have increased last fiscal year due to a poor crop of beech nuts, which serve as food for them.