Guns May Be Allowed Against Bears In Residential Areas; Environment Ministry Panel Urges Exception To Current Ban

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A black bear is seen in April in the Shirakami mountain range between Aomori and Akita prefectures.

A law on hunting should be revised to allow the use of guns against bears that enter residential areas, an expert panel convened by the Environment Ministry proposed on Thursday.

With the animals roaming into residential areas in increasing numbers, the expert panel compiled a draft policy for revising the Wildlife Protection, Control and Hunting Management Law to make an exception to the current prohibition on the use of hunting guns in such places.

In the draft policy, which is expected to be approved in early July, the expert panel proposed relaxing regulations under the law to allow the following three measures: the use of guns when humans are in danger of being harmed by large animals in residential areas; the use of guns — including tranquilizer ones — when bears enter buildings; and using guns to kill bears that have been captured in box traps in residential areas.

The number of people attacked by bears reached a record 219, including six fatalities, during the fiscal year that ended in March.

The Police Duties Execution Law stipulates that when a bear is spotted in a residential area, guns may be used if a police officer orders it. However, this rule may result in delayed responses in some cases.

Revising the hunting law is a better way of responding to this issue than only dealing with it when an emergency arises, the draft policy stated.