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Mountain search party attacked by bear; missing man found dead

29 Comments

A group of people searching for a missing man in a mountain forest in Aizumisato, Fukushima Prefecture, were attacked by a bear on Tuesday.

According to police, the party went into the forest to look for a 78-year-old man who had gone missing on Monday while searching for edible wild plants in the area. The group consisted of two police officers, a town hall employee and the man's son.

TV Asahi reported that the four men were attacked by a bear that suddenly emerged from a thicket at around 2 p.m. and injured all four. The missing man's son and the town hall official sustained serious injuries to their heads while the police officers sustained minor injuries to their arms and shoulders.

Police say the remains of the missing man were found in the forest. It is thought likely that he was attacked in a similar manner to the search party.

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29 Comments
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Talk about jinx...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Don't these people know anything about bears? They are extremely dangerous and if you are in their territory you should take as many anti-bear precautions as you can! They were probably sneaking around and scared the poop out of it and it attacked them. They should have been making as much noise as possible, even banging pots and pans is an effective bear deterrent. Geees!!

0 ( +7 / -7 )

What's with all the mountain climbing incidents of late? Kind of makes Miura's fete look all the greater. I was sad to hear about Kono.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The bears appear to be getting bolder lately.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Damnit, and I intended to go for a trail run this friday...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Didn't anyone think to take a rifle? Why didn't they enlist a local hunter?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It just wanted their picanic basket.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

what good are the police if they can't protect the people that they are with. jeez!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why is everyone blaming the victims? Maybe they were surprised by the bear, which was hungry, angry or confused, and had no time to respond. Or maybe, like how many people would react, they panicked and didn't stick to their plan for if they encountered a bear.

And since when are the police routinely trained in anti-bear techniques?!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Disillusioned-

When you come back unscathed from a bear attack I shall be interested in your methods.

I go hiking all the time and have never had any problems w/ bears. Usually I don't take bells, and I often go alone, so no conversation noise. I do clap and shout if for some reason I feel nervous (lots of blind turns, poor visibility in gnrl).

But in the end, you never know where they are or what they will do.

I would imagine 4 ppl in a search party would be making a fair amount of noise, so I imagine the bear either had experience w/humans and was bold, or had young nearby that it couldn't herd away fast enough so it felt it had to attack. etc. But again, you go do it and tell us about it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I am sorry this happens, but encroaching into one territory (without advanced signed consent from the bear) is asking for trouble..... soon, there will be a party to go in to hunt this poor bear .... similarly when a swimmer goes to the ocean and taken by sharks..... then in the name of justice, the enforcement will go to hunt this poor shark for killing..... how fair is this world now becoming........???

senseless excuse...... maybe its also good to hunt this bear and sell it a premium meat for dogs too, like the one endangered whales being hunted for family dogs........

surely this world is getting better by the day.........

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Cue film tomorrow on TV of a group of intrepid hunters marching out fearlessly to shoot dead three bears, a mother and two cubs.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Didn't anyone think to take a rifle?

The policemen surely had some. But good luck to shoot a wild beast bigger than you and that runs 3 times faster.

They are extremely dangerous and if you are in their territory you should take as many anti-bear precautions as you can!

It seems I live on a bear territory. While hiking, I've met 2 so far, and they didn't attack. They seemed more sorry to meet me than I was to get a glimpse of them (nice animals). Now they could have attacked and then, too bad for me. Banging ? The truth is you wouldn't even deter your neighbor's kittens from peeing on your bonsai. So tell me you can tame bears...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Cos, bears generally dislike noise and attack when surprised, so hikers carry bells. When I picked wild blueberries in Canada with my relatives, we played loud rock music on a boombox, stayed near each other, and there were guns at hand.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Does anyone know if it was a higuma (brown bear) or a tsukinowaguma (smaller bear with a white patch on its chest)? Higumas are 2-3 meters tall and very dangerous. Tsukinowagumas are relatively smaller (about 1.5 meters on the average) and relatively timid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bears generally dislike noise and attack when surprised,

That's popular belief. Note that in the story, the bear surprised the humans. Well, I can't say for Canada, as you seem to have large regions not inhabited so you might be the first human they can see. In Japan, there is nowhere like that, they have lived with humans as close neighbors for centuries.Bear know the hiker trails, the places where the ojichans go to get takenoko and they are never surprised to meet a few standing monkeys there, even if they are silent. Your noisy music, they've heard some before.

so hikers carry bells.

And medals of Saint-Christopher ? Japanese bears mostly -and rarely- attack when they want food and that's like 99% of cases : they get close to inhabitation, if not inside, to grab munchies. Now if you go to steal their food...

And since when are the police routinely trained in anti-bear techniques?!

Since the age of the Jomon. They are probably the best experts. Not your mawarisan in Tokyo, but mountain cops.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Does anyone know if it was a higuma (brown bear) or a tsukinowaguma

Fukushima would be tsukinowaguma. All the bears outside Hokkaido are tsukinowaguma. All the bears in Hokkaido are higuma.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

RIP to the poor old bloke. I just hope there are now no reprisal attacks against bears by angry locals. Whilst I can understand some may be out for revenge, its just like surfers going into well known shark habitats - you've gotta respect the habitat of these bears. They've been in the mountains here way longer than us.

Incidentally, bear meat (nabe and steak) is relatively popular with old people up here in the mountain villages of Fukushima and Yamagata. Like dog meat, they reckon - not that I ever want to volunteer to find out!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the thought of being eaten alive is unbearable.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thanks, Nessie. Tsukinowaguma's aren't really that aggressive. They must have spooked it or come across a mother with cubs. Hope everyone recovers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cos,

You have some interesting information on bears, I wonder where it comes from. Bears on honshu are all black bears, smaller and less agressive than brown bears. However, they do not attack ppl when they are hungry. Even Grizzlies, the largest and most agressive of the brown bear varieties, rarely if ever attack just "because they are hungry".

It is generally that they attack because they have been surprised and especially if they have children nearby. Black bears generally only attack because of children. Grizzlies might attack just because it is their territory, or because they feel like it, from time to time. They do scavenge for all sorts of food, including your garbage and your provisions, if you are camping. (or if your house is in bear territory). That is why you generally should tie it up in trees, away from your actual tent site, where the bears cannot get at it. It is in situations like that, that they may attack "because the are hungry", tho that would be a misrepresentation of what actually happens. What actually happens is this: bear smells something yummy. Bear approaches campsite in search of the yummy. Bear rifles thru luggage, stuff, perhaps even trying to get into tent if it thinks food is there. Human surprises bear in this situation. Bear attacks. A bit different from "bear attacks because hungry".

No, they are not "afraid" of banging noises, perhaps, but they are naturally very wary of ppl, and noise announces you are coming from a distance, giving them time to get away from you before you get too close to them, which is naturally what they want to do. Especially if they have kids. Don't make noise and you will walk right into them if you are downwind of them. Then- watch out!

This can change with bears that are too used to scrounging human waste, or have had run-ins with ppl that left them messed up somehow. Such bears can be overly bold or aggressive.

We don't know what happened here, but I assume they either surpristed the bear, or it was overly used to ppl and had maybe had bad interactions with them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Police were with them…why not use their guns to shoot the bear?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Bears on honshu are all black bears, smaller and less agressive than brown bears. However, they do not attack ppl when they are hungry.

OK, so all those videos we have from the news about bears getting into farms here in Honshu are... science-fiction ? Such attack are numerous when the food supply in the woods gets low (due to weather. etc) and they are starving. That's what I mean by "when they are hungry". They are not scavenging systematically like the crows do.

Human surprises bear in this situation. Bear attacks. A bit different from "bear attacks because hungry".

It's not your "campsite stories" (really common in Japan ?). They are not surprised when they go to villages, they find what they expect : houses and gardens with food in them. When people get out of the house, the bears are not surprised either. They ignore them or run into them if they appear to be an obstacle, but you can't guess... So, you suggest rock music in the garden as a deterrent ?

Don't make noise and you will walk right into them if you are downwind of them.

I am not that fast and small, and they are not that slow. I told you that happened twice. We didn't bump into bears. They saw us at 30 to 50 meters away, they stepped back and they looked more bothered than scared, they were not even running away, just leaving. These animals are very used to see humans and they know what wimps we are compared to them.

Especially if they have kids.

That I don't doubt, it's clear they are more nervous when they have cubs, but I've discussed that many times with local villagers, they are not bringing the cubs out of their remote dens so you are not likely to meet cubs or even get near by chance... The hiker being attacked is rare here, and you'd better take a stick for the boars than worry about bears. But if you try to find them. Certain persons probably want to see cubs, even to hunt them. It's a possibility that the group this time searched a place where bears live with cubs. The old man ? God knows what happened. But some people get crazy and aggressive for no reason, so animals can too.

Grizzlies might attack just because it is their territory,

If you enter their cage in the zoo, that would be. I'd say "well done " as I don't like zoos. As you said, they don't live in Honshu.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This reads like a horror novel.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bears usually do not attack, and will notice a person far before a person notices them. They avoid confrontation by silently retreating. Unfortunately it's the 1 in 1000 cases where they do attack that makes the news.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

cue music.....

"if you go into the woods today......"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People are stupid, ignorant, mess around in BEAR territory and guess what?? The bear will tear your face off and eat you for lunch, dinner etc..same as mucking around in the sea in SHARK territory, they are bigger, have sharper teeth and if I need to explain anymore, well BON APETITE! The bear/s will enjoy you, like it or not! Now, it is SPRING, guess who has not eaten ALL WINTER?? Yes, those bears!!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

They avoid confrontation by silently retreating. Unfortunately it's the 1 in 1000 cases where they do attack that makes the news.

Usually they attack humans foraging for san-sai: alone, old, off the trail, in the bear's larder, hard to distinguish from bears

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cos,

I do not understand what you are trying to say.

Yes, bears do come into villages in search of food from time to time, when there is not so much in the forest for whatever reason, or because they got used to ppl leaving gomi out.

However that is not a bear attack. Nor is it a bear attacking because it is hungry. It is just a bear foraging for food. In that situtaion, when ppl come upon it, it may attack based on distance, level of surprise, presence of young etc. This, however, is really the same scenario as hiking and camping and coming upon a bear. However it is extremely rare that bears attack ppl because they are hungry and they think "I will eat a person".

Being wary of ppl, different bears will have different tolerances, based on its own personality and experience. Different terrain, presence of young, and that particular bear's attitude will dictate if it flees, walks away, or hangs out for awhile (or attacks). Some bears may be used to ppl, other will not be used to them at all. Those and other variables will also dictate the meaning of your 30-50 meters. There is no one rule.

It is not a matter of "scaring" them with noises (or rock music- why?), it is a matter of letting them know you are there when you are hiking so you don't come upon them suddenly, startling them and perhaps causing an attack.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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