Bear attacks on the rise across Japan

NHK -- Oct 20

More and more people in Japan are being attacked by bears. Two were mauled Thursday in the northeastern prefecture of Iwate. One was found dead. Over 150 attacks on people have happened since April.

The most incidents have been reported in Akita Prefecture, also in the northeast.

Five people were attacked Thursday in an urban area.

A man was mauled in the face and taken to hospital.

A high-school girl was bitten on the arm while she was waiting at a bus stop. The five victims also include an 83-year-old woman who suffered a broken arm and hip.

NHK found at least 152 people have been hurt by bears since April.

Attacks have been reported in 17 of Japan's 47 prefectures. And the number is rising faster than ever.

Some bears were filmed Thursday in a chestnut orchard in the city of Akita. They appear to be a family.

A chestnut farmer says bears eat his produce and cause serious damage. He's worried about his harvest.

Products to keep bears away are selling like hotcakes.

Staff at a store in the city of Toyama say sales of items such as bells, whistles and portable radios are more than five times what they were last year.

A member of a Toyama prefectural government taskforce says bears are increasingly coming down to lowland areas because of a shortage of food such as beechnuts.

The central and local governments are urging people to be extra careful as bears tend to do more damage at this time of year before they hibernate.

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