A bear is believed to have assaulted and possibly consumed a local fisherman, as police found a human head near the scene and observed boots dangling from the creature’s jaw.
The scene unfolded in the serene landscape of Lake Shumarinai on Hokkaido Island, Japan, typically known for its tranquil beauty rather than grisly events.
On the day of May 15, Toshihiro Nishikawa, an avid 54-year-old angler, embarked on a trip to an isolated fishing point near Horokanai’s lake. When he didn’t return as expected, his angling companions raised the alarm, leading local authorities to initiate a search mission for the missing man.
Later that day, a boat operator who had earlier transported Nishikawa to his fishing spot observed a bear acting peculiarly with what seemed to be fishing boots protruding from its mouth. The boatman attempted to make contact by phone with Nishikawa after this disturbing sighting but with no luck. This led to the formation of a hunting team, with the goal of tracking down and dealing with the potentially dangerous animal. The bear was later shot and killed that evening.
In their search, a human head was discovered near where Nishikawa was last reported. Authorities are yet to definitively confirm whether the unearthed remains belong to the missing man.
In light of the presumed bear attack, the Horokanai municipal office has issued a critical warning, urging residents to proceed with extreme caution when participating in farming or forestry activities or venturing into bear-populated mountainous regions.
Advisories recommend that individuals encountering a bear should remain calm and hold their position. Running away or providing food to the animal are firmly advised against. Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is estimated to be home to between 6,500 and 10,000 Ussuri brown bears, a species known to grow to sizes of up to 7 feet 6 inches and weigh over 550 lbs.
Interactions between humans and bears, often leading to confrontations, are not a rarity, especially in areas where human settlement and wilderness intersect. In 2021 alone, officials in Hokkaido recorded at least 14 incidents involving bears that resulted in human injury or death.
Despite their size being smaller than that of their North American grizzly bear counterparts, Ussuri brown bears, also known as the Russian grizzly bear, pose an equally significant threat.