City Government in Hokkaido Ramps Up Bear Hunter Training; Local Interest Surges Following Recent Attacks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants hold mock guns in Nemuro, Hokkaido, on Friday.

NEMURO, Hokkaido — To address the frequent appearances of brown bears in Nemuro, Hokkaido, the city government held a seminar on Friday to train new hunters. Although the seminar had a capacity of 20 participants, it drew in 24 people, indicating high interest in hunting among locals.

On April 28, a small pickup truck was attacked on a mountain road by a brown bear while the driver was out to collect wild plants. Footage from a dashcam, released by the Hokkaido prefectural police, showed the violent scene, including the bear charging at the vehicle and cracking the windshield. The city government organized Friday’s seminar out of awareness that training hunters is an urgent need due to the potential for human injuries caused by bears and other wildlife.

At the seminar, Masayuki Saito, the 68-year-old acting branch head of a local hunting association, promoted the charms of hunting, saying, “It’s a game of tactics with the prey, and you can obtain the finest food for cooking,” while also explaining the difficult realities: “It requires effort and money. There are risks and responsibilities involved as well.”

Local authorities explained support systems for hunters and the procedures for obtaining a hunting license to the participants.

Mock rifles and traps were also present at the seminar, allowing participants to learn how to handle them from experienced hunters.

“Handling rifles might be heavy and challenging for me, but I think my son can help me with it,” said Kyoko Takanuma, a 54-year-old local resident.