Killer Bear in Japan Found Dead Next to Final Victim

A brown bear has been found dead next to the body of a missing student in Japan. Authorities believe the bear killed the student and attacked three other people in the area.

The bear’s own cause of death remains unclear. The Hokkaido Research Organization is investigating the contents of its stomach in the hope of discovering what killed it.

Kanato Yanaike, 22, disappeared on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido while hiking on Mount Daisengen on Oct. 29. His car turned up at the starting point of the trail. Police found his remains on Nov. 2. An autopsy revealed that he had died from blood loss from the bear attack.

Mount Daisengen seen from the West in Oshima Peninsula, Hokkaido

Mount Daisengen, Hokkaido. Photo: Terra Khan/Wikimedia


Fended it off with a knife

The remains of the bear and Yanaike were near the area where three others were attacked in the same week. The Hokkaido police believe the same bear may have been responsible. Two of the men were seriously injured, but the trio was able to fend the bear off with a knife.

In May, another bear attack happened around the same mountain. A fisherman died in a nearby lake, and his head was found in the water. A brown bear nearby had waders in its jaw.

Bear attacks are on the rise in Japan. Since April, over 160 injuries and three deaths have occurred. This is the first year in a decade that bears have killed humans in Japan.

The vast majority of attacks have happened on Honshu, Japan’s southern and largest island. Experts believe that the rising number of brown bears combined with the dwindling food supply is to blame. The lack of food has driven the bears into populated areas as they try to fatten before hibernation.

Some think that more bears are moving into these areas because so many young people have left the countryside, which now abounds in abandoned agricultural land. The farmlands previously acted as a buffer between communities and wild areas.

A wild brown bear.

A wild brown bear. Photo: Shutterstock


Other bear attacks

Japan is trying to use “monster wolves” as a deterrent against the bears. These robotic wolves howl at 90 decibels and have red eyes that light up. This extreme version of a scarecrow originally deterred wild boars from crops.

Fatal attacks have also occurred in the U.S. and Italy this year. In January, a polar bear killed a mother and her child in Alaska. A few months later, a brown bear killed a hiker in Yellowstone National Park. Meanwhile in Italy, a bear is suspected of killing a runner who went missing in the Italian Alps.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.