Between April and September of this year, 13,670 bears were spotten in the wild in Japan. Bears are coming in contact with people more and more recently, with two women dying after being attacked by bears in October. One woman in her 70's was in Niigata Prefecture and another in her 80's in Akita Prefecture. In Ishikawa Prefecture, three bears were shot to death in October. Two had attacked people and one had entered a shop.
Asian black bears are found on Japan's main island of Honshu. The larger species of brown bears inhabit the island of Hokkaido. Experts say that there is a less than normal availability of wild tree nuts, such as beech nuts and acorns, causing bears to move closer to areas inhabited by humans in search of food before their winter hibernation.