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3 Toyama men injured in bear attack; 12th in 5 days

An Asiatic black bear is seen in this photo provided by the Toyama Prefectural Government's nature protection division

TOYAMA -- Three men in their 70s were injured in a bear attack early on Nov. 15, officials of the Toyama Prefectural Government's nature protection division said.

The incident marked the fifth day in a row a bear attack has taken place in the prefecture. Seventeen people have been attacked in 12 cases this year.

At around 6:40 a.m. on Nov. 15, the three men were attacked by an Asiatic black bear in a residential area in this western Japan city along the Sea of Japan coast, officials said. They were on their way home after a group workout program at a nearby community center.

A local resident called an ambulance and the three men were rushed to hospital. Among them, a 76-year-old was seriously injured after being clawed in the head by the bear. The two others, aged 76 and 75, suffered minor bite wounds to their thighs.

On the afternoon of the previous day, a 78-year-old man suffered a broken right arm when he was attacked by a bear while working on his farm in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture.

Experts say bears tend to be active in the early morning and the evening. This year, however, many bear attacks have occurred in the daytime.

A prefectural nature protection division official commented, "If you encounter a bear, you should gradually back away from the animal without provoking it. If a bear approaches you, you should try to protect your head, face and neck, which the animal tends to target."

(Japanese original by Shun Morino, Toyama Bureau)

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