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Officials warn of spike in bear attacks

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The Environment Ministry says bears have attacked 84 people—killing four—from April to September this year, surpassing last year’s total of 64 attacks.

Oh but they're so cute, come here you loveable larrikins and gouge my face.

Message brought to you by the "animals before humans" insane fan club.

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I love how they generalize locations! Where is heck is "in the north"? Why not name the location (are the police not sure?)

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SeasonedVet, Good one, I could not agree with you more! LOL

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"Message brought to you by the "animals before humans" insane fan club."

It is actually a pretty big club. All you have to do to be a member is not live near bears. Then you get an honorary membership.

I like bears. Some of my best friends are bears. But there are some bad actors who will make life miserable for you if you like the outdoors, or even just tend a garden. It used to be that you would just put up with the hassles and the danger because it is important to protect them. But a couple of generations on, that needs to be re-examined. If we are going to live together, tagging and tracking them, or doing DNA testing on crop damage, are going to be necessary to keep people from just killing them outright.

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Killed 400? How many bears are there in Japan and roughly how long until there are none?

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I don't know why you guys feel the need to be patronizing and calling people insane about this. This has nothing to do with the bears being 'omg cute!!!'. In cases of danger or where there is no other option, of course they have to shoot them. Most of us don't advocate bears over humans, good grief.

(And for the record, I do live near bears and there have been several sightings in my area, up to three blocks away from my own house.)

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a tad late, Einsteins!

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This has nothing to do with the bears being 'omg cute!!!'

Yes it does.

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Wait a minute, isn't there a clause in the Japanese constitution about "the right to arm bears"?

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police and embers of a local hunting group tried to use a blowgun to tranquilize them.

Two questions: One, what are 'embers'? And what does "'tried' to use a blowguns" mean?

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stop building in the habitats and this might now happen....over development everywhere...what do we expect????

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what are 'embers'?

Thanks JT. My apologies. Of course it was meant to be 'members'...my morning coffee didn't kick in when I was reading that. Thaks for correcting.

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stop building in the habitats and this might now happen....over development everywhere...what do we expect????

Please direct me to the "over development" in Hokkaido. Seems like I've been missing something.

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Wow, the J-gov really going out on a limb there. Whats their next early warning?

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It seems to me there needs to be more research done to determine the exact population of these bears in certain areas and how many bears are sustainable for a given area. I am not really in favor of culling the bears to prevent further attacks on people, but the current 'shoot on site' alternative will destroy the wild bear population very quickly. There also needs to be more work done in providing effective deterrent measure to the people. Fire crackers, air horns, even mace spray are good non-lethal deterrents. Bears are smart and once they get to know people are danger they will stay away.

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Oh but they're so cute, come here you loveable larrikins and gouge my face. Message brought to you by the "animals before humans" insane fan club.

Mmm, no, it seems that is a strawman brought to us by someone who surely has not spent long in the veterinary business (with that kind of attitude, he wouldn't last a week). On all the threads about bears we've had recently, I haven't seen a single post claiming 'We shouldn't shoot bears because they're cute'. Bears are not cute, except in the sense that all Creation is cute. Bears are potentially dangerous and smelly, but so long as they're dangerous and smelly in the mountains where they belong, they don't give us much cause to complain and they certainly don't deserve the death sentence just for being what they are.

What we shouldn't be doing is waiting for the bears to come down out of the mountains, waiting for them to be roaming the streets, strolling through schools, climbing trees in the garden before we do anything about the problem. What we shouldn't be doing is assuming that shooting hungry bears is any kind of long-term solution. It isn't.

Rather than expending all our energy on shooting bears in the streets, we should be concentrating on not getting the bears in the streets in the first place. Prevention is better than cure. I still think the best short-term solution is to organise food drops in the mountains so that the bears don't need to come scavenging.

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hokkaidoguy...been to Sapporo????

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Yes it does.

Oh. Well then! You sure showed me! Pfft.

Agree with cleo again, especially the part about relying on shooting them and not doing anything else about the problem. There has to be some kind of preventative measure to take in this situation, otherwise they're just going to keep coming. More people will get hurt, and more bears will die for being hungry.

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Yup kokorocloud, you sure got it handed to you on a plate. That kind of incisive logic cannot be refuted.

lol

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I come from a town in Canada that has a yearly bear problem and its not due to the expanding community but rather food. Bears like fruit off trees and residents that don't harvest their fruit before it's too ripe get bear visitors. Garbage is another problem and if bears get a taste of this lifestyle it's hard for them to stay put in the mountain. This may be why people are choosing to hunt the ones near communities. Its sad but its sometimes the only solution.

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Humans 400, Bears 4.

I am sure the bears do not really want to come down into stinky human habitation areas.

What is their thought bubble? My cubs. We're going to die of hunger up here. Let's throw ourselves on the mercy of the old enemy. Raid a few gardens and trash bags. Better a gamble for food, with maybe a quick death from a gun, than straight starvation.

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On all the threads about bears we've had recently, I haven't seen a single post claiming 'We shouldn't shoot bears because they're cute'

Sorry. Then here it is. We shouldn't shoot bears because they're cute. Now I don't believe that personally, but there it is. Wait, we should shoot bears because they're cute. And for no other reason. You know, like bears approaching within 50m of elementary schools. Won't somebody please think of the children?

There has to be some kind of preventative measure to take in this situation

I...just don't know what that is, that's all.

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I still think the best short-term solution is to organise food drops in the mountains so that the bears don't need to come scavenging.

And I think you're the best man for the job, cleo. Just don't waste my money when they come in anyway and end up getting all shot for a fraction of the price.

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SeasonedVet-- Just because I don't have a list of solutions prepared for you it must be impossible or they don't exist? I hate the argument "well YOU think of something then!!", it just sounds a little immature.

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I hate the argument "well YOU think of something then!!"

Do you? Was that on another thread somewhere?

Down with bears. All of them.

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SeasonedVet-- Haha. Okay then, forget it. In the end, I hope none of us ever have to come face to face with a bear this season. I also hope they have food next year (if most of them haven't been picked off by then).

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well they completely wiped out the bears in Kyushu and look how much mountain area there is there.The Japanese bear will go the way of the Tasmanian Tiger this century I guess.

hopefully using tranquiliser darts can make people want to kill a few beers instead of killing a few bears.They have their part in the Ecosystem.

Should reintroduce the wolf too. :) Japan has a huge overpopulation of der that are destructive to the land.That is what bears and wolves can help sort out.Humans are often responsible for attracting bears into their communities...habits need to be changed.

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I hope none of us ever have to come face to face with a bear this season

And what if you do? Who will you be turning to at that moment? cleo?

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Seriously, this is stupid.

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And what does "'tried' to use a blowguns" mean?

Seems to imply that none of them knew how to use the blowgun and therefore they failed to tranquilise the bear. I suspect it's a sloppy translation and should read something like, "... attempted to tranquilise them using a blowgun."

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Seriously, this is stupid.

What is stupid is empty posturing online from the comfort of your armchair. Seriously, next time a bear comes in, who will you call to take care of the situation? That's right, our beloved hunters. Savin' the day.

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SeasonedVet-- First of all, I wish I was in a nice armchair, instead I'm in a rickety old armless chair at a desk, I know you didn't ask, but alas. Second, I feel like you've completely ignored everything I and everyone else has said. And did I SAY they should NEVER KILL ANY BEARS EVER? No. I said in situations where it is NECESSARY to do so, obviously they don't have a choice. That would include situations where a person's life is in danger. It includes situations where the situation could possibly escalate to that point and there are NO OTHER MEANS of stopping the animal. I favor NOT shooting the bear dead in cases where it's NOT necessary. Is that clear enough for you? Or are you still reading 'omg cute bears!!!' out of my comments?

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Or are you still reading 'omg cute bears!!!' out of my comments?

Did someone say omg cute bears? Cos if they did...

At any rate, bears are not people. And people must come first. Vote SeasonedVet for your local ward committee member in 2011.

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but the current 'shoot on site' alternative will destroy the wild bear population very quickly.

I think you're right. Better to make the bears go somewhere else before shooting them.

Come to think of it, seriously, chasing them elsewhere before opening fire might be better for the bears. They'd have a chance to go back up the mountain. Can't see it happening though 'cos it would be more risky and time-consuming for the humans involved.

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hokkaidoguy...been to Sapporo????

Yes - and even calling Sapporo "overdeveloped" is a bit of a stretch. The greater Sapporo area is barely 2 million people - and once you get out of the city, especially heading east, the trend is obviously towards contraction rather than expansion. Tell the few remaining people in Yubari that they're overdeveloping their town...

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When I was in Sapporo the people I met there said that they frequently have bears on the outskirts.Maybe still better to be shot than let the Ainu get to them as what they do ritually to bears equals what happens to dolphins in Taiji.

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"I think you're right. Better to make the bears go somewhere else before shooting them."

If you were a bear, what would you do? It is as simple as that.

Someone is talking above about tranking bears. Gosh. Apply technology, solve the problem! But where do you take that bear? And is it a female taking care of cubs? Somebody will say... Hokkaido!! Well nice try, but you ARE introducing more and more predators to Hokkaido if you do that, and you mess up the gene pool on Honshu.

I personally am not fearful of bears here in Japan. I let children play in areas where I know that there are poison snakes, wasps, and other nasties. But bears vs. kids is a bad situation in a country without guns. I am not even a fan of hunting at all. I particularly think it is sad that so many bears have been killed and I blame humans. We should protest! We should demand other solutions to the problem! But we should not condemn people who have to solve their problems.

Absent a reasonable alternative, and lacking appropriate knowledge of what a bear is likely to do, killing one once in a while is about all that is left. If people don't like it, then pay some money to solve the problem. It will take money to do it.

Are you game? Or are they?

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Klein2-- What I don't understand is someone saying "maybe we should think of other ways besides just shooting them all" meaning we think we're experts. I am no expert on the subject, and certainly not because I live in an area where there are bears around-- which was merely a response to the assumption that we're all just city folk talking about this and there's no real danger for us. I was stating a fact. The only point I want to make is that simply shooting every bear solves nothing-- this is a bigger problem, as YOU and many others have already stated!

I apologize if the "immature" comment bothered you that much, I take it back. And I am not applying dolphine/whale logic here because it's not even the same situation. At all. And once again, no one is saying they shouldn't be killed because they're cute, no one is saying someone should stand by and let the bears maul people.

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"The only point I want to make is that simply shooting every bear solves nothing-- this is a bigger problem, as YOU and many others have already stated"

I assure you people do not think that. People in my neighborhood run them off and confront them. They are 10 times better behaved than monkeys, but more dangerous. I think there is one living about 200 meters from my house, but I don't really want to check. And rural people here are NOT like they are in North America, just blasting away at things, protecting the homestead.

Ok. We are not experts, but let's just say that I know a lot about this problem. The best solution I have heard is using DNA tests of saliva from damaged crops used along with radio tracking of some bears. When you get sufficient information about local bears' behavior, then you KNOW, if you ever kill or capture a bear and test its DNA, whether you got a good one or a bad one. If you killed a bad one, then everyone can stand down. If you killed a good one, well, the problem continues. The system is not perfect, but it is a process that will keep people from panicking, at the very least. Cooler heads are always preferred.

But if you don't kill them, what can you do? Just grin and bear it. Ha. In my community, they are just tolerated. You can't be friendly with them, but nobody really wants to kill them. They get hungry and bold, and ... well.. things start disappearing. But as far as I know, although we have a lot of them, none has been killed in over a decade.

I dont assume you are city folk. I am saying that city folk are A LOT less likely to understand the problem. City folk think monkeys are funny and that tanuki are cute. If anything, I would think that animal lovers, as very distinct from pet owners, would understand that being cute is not part of normal animal behavior. It is human conceit to expect that bears and humans can live near each other without contact or problems once in awhile. Solutions to those wildlife problems are unlikely to come from people who put sweaters on chihuahuas, feed them out of a can, and take them shopping.

Life would suck without bears nearby. Life would suck if one camped on my doorstep every night. I have very little choice in the matter. Nobody does. I am ok with that. Bears DO have the right to roam freely, unlike housecats, and they are not hunted as pests. Everyone I have ever talked to seems to give them a lot more respect than they would a homeless person, for instance. Farmers surrender their crops on many occasions or go to shoo them off three or four at a time. People don't get angry. They just shrug and say, "Kuma."

If some people think bears are dangerous enough to kill to protect humans, I won't quibble too much. Some are. I just hope they aren't getting killed to protect the chihuahuas. If you want to be indignant about something, try to be indignant about that.

People think of bears as doggies, and that is a mistake. Bears are real, not human-contrived toys. The first poster on this thread hit that nerve. Cute is an impulse to save animals for humans' sake. It therefore demeans the animal, in my opinion. You might say it is my "pet" peeve.

OK. Quite a bit of rambling there.

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Klein2-- Thank you for your response, and to be honest, I agree with almost everything you've said here. I get the feeling I'm still being misunderstood, but alas.

And yes, bears are wild animals. Yes. We all get that (I hope). Anyone who doesn't needs to pick up a book or go watch that movie about the man who went to live with the grizzlies. The ones putting their chihuahuas in sweaters, in particular.

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why are human lives any more valuable than a bear's? because we watch telly and can pick our noses?

Moderator: Please lift the level of your contributions or you will be leaving us.

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The best solution I have heard is using DNA tests of saliva from damaged crops used along with radio tracking of some bears.

I read somewhere (sorry, can't remember where and JT wouldn't let me post a link anyways) that one problem with that was that unauthorized hunters would latch on to the radio signal and use it to track down the bear and shoot it for fun.

People think of bears as doggies..... The first poster on this thread hit that nerve.

You know, I don't know of a single person who thinks of bears as doggies. Certainly not the chi-in-a-sweater gang. The first poster did not hit anything, except his own preconceived and incorrect notions of what other people think. No one is saying bears shouldn't be shot because they're cute, or that bears are more important than humans. What I'm saying is that keeping the bears out of town in the first place is better - and safer for humans - than waiting until they're walking down the street then calling in the gunmen.

Efforts to keep them away may not always work, but at least it's worth a try. Which is better, being cured of cancer, or not getting cancer in the first place? (Not that bears are any kind of cancer)

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Wildlife experts have blamed a record heat wave this summer which impacted the omnivores’ natural food sources and sent the Asiatic black bears foraging for food in more densely populated farming and residential areas.

I'd like to hear more about this. Last year it was not enough nuts. But after this summer? There should be plenty. It seems like they make this suff up as they go along.

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Nessie, the Mizunara and Buna trees that produce acorns, the bears' staple diet before hibernating, are all withered and have produced few if any acorns this year. Nearly as bad as 2006. It's been on the TV news a few times lately.

The reason given for Mizunara was the very cold spring and the long hot summer, and for Buna it was the regular lean cycle; these have coincided this year. (Last year there were plenty of these acorns, apparently.)

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There's also a tiny wood-boring bug that apparently is infesting nara-type trees all over the country, causing them to wither. It was on the telly.

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There's a very good article in the Japanese Mainichi of 22 Oct 2010. They mention also the huge fall in the number of hunters from 30 years ago, the bears' ignorance of the meaning of a gunshot, and the complaints that pour into the regional offices from the general public about poor bears and cruel hunters.

Cannot provide a link unfortunately.

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Look in mainichi jp for this title, with 'Kuma' and 'Donguri busoku'. クマ出没:被害者、過去最悪に迫る ドングリ不作も要因

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Cleo, thanks, yes, I was looking for nara too.

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Here is an opportunity for all the nature lovers in Japan. Plant berry bushes in areas of the mountain not frequented by humans. It could be a lot of fun for people to contribute effort or bushes or money to this cause. Just a thought.

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Nessie, the Mizunara and Buna trees that produce acorns, the bears' staple diet before hibernating, are all withered and have produced few if any acorns this year. Nearly as bad as 2006. It's been on the TV news a few times lately.

Thanks. Buna should not be a factor in most of Hokkaido, though, as the northern limit is Kuromatsunai, in southern Hokkaido.

The reason given for Mizunara was the very cold spring and the long hot summer, and for Buna it was the regular lean cycle; these have coincided this year. (Last year there were plenty of these acorns, apparently.)

But last year was said to be a bad year anyway.

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