Residents of Hokkaido Prefecture, which makes up Japan’s northernmost island, have been warned by the local government that brown bears may be found in human settlements more often this year. According to the Hokkaido Prefectural Government, poor growth of acorns, which brown bears feed on, are causing the wild animals to look for food among places where humans also live.
The local government said that there may be common encounters with brown bears as people are usually gathering mushrooms in the mountains during fall. Hokkaido has issued a warning to its people to watch out for bears when venturing into nature areas. The special warning will last until the end of the month of October. According to Tsutomu Mano of the Hokkaido Research Organization environment and geological research headquarters, “Brown bears seeking food are active over a wider area, and that area can include farm fields and human settlements.” He also warned that people “need to properly take care of garbage and collect crops without leaving them in the fields for too long.”
The Hokkaido Prefectural Government, through the local Biodiversity Division, works with the Hokkaido University and other non-profit organizations to assess the growth of water oak acorns in the wild. The joint studies are done annually from August until September. The result of this year’s assessment showed that there are not enough grown almost across the prefecture.
Brown bears are also known to feed on fox grapes, hardy kiwis, and beech nuts. Growth of these foods this year are said to be enough. Their availability is also expected to contribute to bear appearances among human settlements. Studies by the Hokkaido Research Organization in southern Oshima Peninsula showed that there is correlation with poor growth of wild nuts and the brown bears’ appearances in places where people live.