I first saw this one shared on Facebook, and then something on the evening news. The brown bear was something I heard a fair bit about when I was in Hokkaido. I remember going to a BBQ, and hearing a siren blast – apparently to drive away any bears in the area.
I also remember my host family having a book about the bears and their relationships with humans. One macabre photo showed the contents of a bear’s stomach (one that had been shot after it killed a person). The contents included a near-intact human foot!
I still longed for the opportunity to spot a bear in the wild (from a distance, and before it spotted me), but that particular wish never came to fruition.
My take on the following news story? Unfortunate, but probably necessary. An aging agricultural population and bears taking risks is not a good combination.
From the Japan Times:
ASAHIKAWA – A brown bear shot dead last month in Monbetsu, Hokkaido, was so big — about 400 kg — that residents are jokingly calling it the “metabolic” bear, it has been learned.
“Even a 300-kg bear would be considered big,” said a 71-year-old man who belongs to a hunting club. “I’ve been a hunter for more than 40 years, but I’ve never seen a bear like this.”
According to city officials in Monbetsu, the footprints of the giant male bear were found near fields and houses in the city, prompting the city and police to increase patrols.
Separately, a corn farmer whose crops had apparently been raided by bears, asked the local hunting club to hunt it down.
After harvesting most of the corn and narrowing down the range of potential hiding places, hunters shot the bear after spotting it running from a field on Sept. 26.
“It is probably one of the biggest bears that has ever been taken down,” said Toshifumi Onishi, an official at the famed Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa. “Farming fields are a paradise for bears. They have a big appetite before they hibernate, which is probably why the bear was so fat.”
Earlier this month, Hokkaido authorities told residents to exercise caution this year because bears might wander into towns and cities or fields in search of food due to a shortage of their favored acorns and beech nuts.
The evening news added that this individual was raiding a corn field and causing major crop damage. A hostile encounter was probably inevitable.