Delivering newspapers seems like it should be a pretty quiet and chill job, especially if you’re delivering the early-morning edition in a small, rural town. And on most days, it probably is for a 75-year-old paper deliveryman who works in Katagami, a town in Japan’s northern Akita Prefecture.
The man got a dose of unexpected on-the-job excitement last Friday, however, while making his daily deliveries. At a little after three in the morning, the man parked his vehicle to get out and place the papers in subscribers’ mailboxes, but while standing in front of one customer’s house he was suddenly attacked by a silent figure that had snuck up on him in the pre-dawn darkness. Tackled to the ground, the deliveryman began to fight back, pushing and punching. Unable to make out his attacker’s face in the darkness, the deliveryman shouted “Who the hell are you?” but the assailant did not give his name.
This wasn’t because of cowardice or secrecy, though, but because it turned out that the deliveryman was, in actuality, fighting a bear.
▼ The site of the attack
“I had my work gloves on, so at first I couldn’t feel its fur, and I thought I’d been fighting a human,” says the man. “When I realized it was a bear, I got really scared, and didn’t think I had any chance of beating it,” he explains.
Despite his understandable self-doubt, the man was able to put up enough of a fight that the bear ran off, but not before gashing his shoulders and back. Thankfully, his injuries were not life-threatening, and he returned home under his own power, then contacted the police to report the incident. The exact size of the bear is unknown, but the man, who is 160 centimeters tall, says he thinks it was about as large as he is.
Later that morning, a second bear attack occurred 250 meters away from where the newspaper deliveryman was attacked. This time the victim was an 84-year-old woman who was out for an early walk, sustaining injuries to her arms. While it’s not impossible that this was a coincidence (or, perhaps, a coordinated operation by accomplice bears acting in cahoots), the authorities believe it’s likely that the same bear was the assailant in both incidents, and are cautioning local residents to be on the lookout for the animal and to report any sightings.
Sources: Akita Sakigake Shimpo via Jin, Yahoo! Japan News/Akita TV
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