Bear breaks construction worker’s leg amid spate of attacks in Japan

A 49-year-old construction worker in Fukui prefecture, Japan, was mauled by a bear on Friday, 23 October, suffering a broken leg and other serious injuries, newspaper The Mainichi reports.

The attack at a Shinkansen bullet-train line construction site was one of a spate of attacks in Japan in which at least seven people have been injured in the last 10 days.

Conservationists warn that a shortage of acorns are driving the bears, which are a subspecies of the Asian black bear and are predominantly herbivores, out of their forest habitats and into conflict with humans.

The Japan Bear and Forest Society has called on national and local governments to protect bear habitats, to take acorns into forests, and to plant nut-bearing trees. 

Japan’s black bear population is thought to number between 15,000 and 20,000.

Ten minutes before attacking the construction worker on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, the bear attacked a 56-year-old male employee of West Japan Railway Co. who was stretching at around 8.30am before his shift at a rail yard.

He suffered non-life-threatening scratches on the neck and shoulder.

Around 11am that morning the bear, described as one-metre-long adult male, was shot and killed by a local hunting team.

Separately, on Friday, another bear attacked a woman in her 70s in the prefectural city of Ono at around 1pm as she was getting into her car.

According to The Mainichi, it bit her on the back of her head and left arm before leaving the scene. Her injuries are not life-threatening.

Around a week earlier, one bear attacked four people ranging in age from their 50s to 90s in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, and damaged a police car, before being shot to death.

The attacks left a 95-year-old man and a 63-year-old woman seriously injured.

Two male hunters, aged 57 and 72, sustained minor injuries after encountering the animal.

During its spree, the bear attacked a police car, puncturing one of its tires.

Image: Japan’s bears are a subspecies of the Asian black bear and are predominantly herbivores (Photograph byYoshihiro Sato/Japan Bear and Forest Society)

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