Authorities are currently delving into the tragic demise of a college student, which is believed to be the result of a bear attack. The incident unfolded as the student’s lifeless body was discovered last week on a mountain in northern Japan, possibly adding to a series of bear-related incidents in the country this year.
According to reports from The Mainichi newspaper, the local police revealed that the university student’s remains were found in close proximity to a deceased brown bear. This grim discovery occurred in the same area where just two days prior, a group of men had managed to survive a harrowing encounter with a brown bear.
The unfortunate student was identified as Kanato Yanaike, a 22-year-old college student from Hakodate. He had gone missing during a climbing expedition earlier in the week, and his lifeless body was found on Mount Daisengen, situated on the lower peninsula of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four primary islands. The cause of Yanaike’s death was determined to be hemorrhagic shock. Given the proximity of a brown bear’s carcass, authorities are treating the incident as a suspected bear attack.
According to The Mainichi, Yanaike had informed an acquaintance of his plans to embark on a climbing excursion to Mount Daisengen on October 29. His car was subsequently discovered near a trailhead on the mountain. Tragically, his body was eventually found near the same location where three men had encountered a brown bear on October 31. While these men managed to fend off the bear, two of them sustained injuries during the encounter.
Intriguingly, authorities are now exploring the possibility that Yanaike’s death may be linked to a series of attacks perpetrated by the same brown bear. The Hokkaido Research Organization has expressed its intent to examine the contents of the bear’s stomach, hoping to shed light on this tragic and puzzling sequence of events.
Bear attacks have witnessed a troubling surge in Japan throughout the year 2023, as per reports by the Kyodo news agency. Between April and September, a total of 109 people fell victim to bear-related incidents, primarily in the northern region of Honshu, Japan’s primary island, according to data from the Japanese Environment Ministry. Tragically, two individuals lost their lives in these encounters, with one fatality occurring in Hokkaido.
In a particularly grim incident in May, Hokkaido police probed the death of a fisherman, which they suspected resulted from a bear attack near a lake in the northern part of the island, adjacent to Mount Daisengen. Their suspicions were reinforced when a human head was discovered in the area, as reported by Kyodo.
In August, hunters in the remote northern areas of Japan took down an elusive brown bear affectionately nicknamed “Ninja” after it had laid waste to at least 66 cows, as detailed by the Associated Press. Furthermore, early October saw local Japanese authorities and media outlets report the euthanization of three bears who had intruded into a tatami mat factory in the country’s northern region. These unwelcome guests were eventually captured after spending nearly an entire day inside the factory, as per the AP.
Local governments in Japan have suggested that the growing bear population surpassing available food resources may account for the spike in bear attacks this year, as reported by Kyodo. In particular, it was noted in October that an abundant supply of beech nuts and acorns in 2022 likely contributed to the population increase. However, with a scarcity of nuts this year, officials believe that bears have been venturing beyond their usual habitats, and in some instances, encroaching into human settlements in search of sustenance as they prepare for hibernation.