FOCUS: Japan Local Govts Stepping Up Measures against Wild Bears

Society Politics

Tokyo, Nov. 16 (Jiji Press)--Local authorities across Japan are stepping up measures to deal with wild bears, in the face of increasing numbers of cases in which people have been hurt by them.

According to the Environment Ministry, the nationwide number of cases of bears being spotted came to 13,670 in April-September, hitting the highest level in five years. Meanwhile, cases of humans being assaulted by bears totaled 80 in the first half of fiscal 2020, compared with 140 cases in the whole of fiscal 2019, preliminary data showed.

In Japan, wild bears have been expanding their habitats in recent years, with some hibernating and having cubs within human territories. Eliminating bears is said to be difficult, given their intelligence and ability to learn.

In the central prefecture of Niigata, the number of bear appearance cases in fiscal 2020 has risen to the highest level since records started in fiscal 2006. "Due to poor beechmast harvests, bears are coming over to human territories for food," a Niigata prefectural official said. The prefectural government has issued a special warning about bear appearances, while providing local municipalities with bear traps.

In the city of Takikawa, Hokkaido, northern Japan, there used to be around one bear appearance report every five years, but the number of such reports has reached 10 so far this year. To prevent local residents from being harmed by bears, the city government introduced in September wolf robots that produce threatening sounds to scare off bears. Since then, there has been no report of a bear being spotted in the city, with a city official saying the robots "appear to be working."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press