Authorities urge caution after wild bear attacks

Authorities have warned residents to be aware of wild bears in the country’s northeast after several people were attacked, including police officers.

The bears, measuring about 1-metre long, were seen in the area, including Akita and Fukushima prefectures.

Two police officers were attacked on Saturday in the city of Kazuno in Akita while recovering the body of a missing man, according to Japanese media reports.

The man had gone hunting for bamboo shoots in the mountains a few days earlier where he was found dead in the area with gash wounds. It remains unclear if he died due to a bear attack.

The officers are in serious condition, though not life-threatening, reports said.

In response, some wooded areas have been closed off in Kazuno “for an indefinite time,” officials said in a statement.

Thousands of Asiatic black bears live in the wild throughout Japan. Attacks have risen as the borders blur between the bears’ habitats and people’s dwellings.

The scarcity of acorns, berries and other food, possibly connected to climate change, is also blamed for the surge in bear encounters. — AP

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