Un ours brun a été abattu hier dans la ville de Sapporo (Hokkaido, Japon) après avoir blessé 4 personnes dont un soldat (l'une des victimes a été mutilée). L'animal a parcouru une route fréquentée, une rue résidentielle, et a griffé les portes d'une caserne de l'armée. L'incident a entraîné la fermeture des écoles locales et l'annulation de plusieurs vols dans un petit aéroport régional. Sapporo va accueillir le marathon des jeux olympiques de Tokyo cet été (la ville avait accueilli les jeux olympiques d'hiver en 1972). . Voir le détail dans les articles publiés par Asahi Shimbun et dw.com, hier.
Les ourssont clairement identifiés comme des tueurs et des mangeurs d'hommes. Chaque année, des japonais meurent sous la dent de ces plantigrades, et beaucoup d'entre eux sont abattus. Mais cela signifie aussi qu'il existe une certaine acceptation de cet état de fait dans la psychologie collective, ce qui évite les réactions hystériques chez les citoyens ou les institutions (comme cela se produit en France pour les loups et les requins par exemple). Il reste encore entre 1000 et 2000 ours bruns de l'Oussouri sur Hokkaïdo, et plusieurs milliers (peut être près de 10 000) ours noirs asiatiques, sur Honshu.
Asian black bears are known for having short tempers. Each year they kill one or two people in Japan and injure 10 to 20. Many attacks occur in the spring when people collect wild bamboo shoots, which the bears also fancy. People have been killed by bears in Hokkaido and the Tohuku region of northern Honshu. In May 2001 in southern Hokkaido, a 53-year-old man was killed and buried by a bear. In 2003, a man was badly mauled in the face by a bear in the Okayama area. Two deaths from bear attacks were recorded in both 1985 and 2004.
In the summer and autumn of 2004 there was an unusually high number of bear attacks. Newspapers ran headlines like “Bear Injures Four in Kimono Shop” and “Five Elderly People Injured in Three Prefectures." Bears were caught in hen houses eating chickens and spotting in persimmon trees munching on the orange fruit. One person was killed and almost a 100 were injured, almost 10 times the usual number. There was a particularly high number of attacks in Toyama on the Sea of Japan.
In June 2004, a hiker in Nikko National Park was seriously injured in an attack by a black bear. In the same area two men were seriously injured by bear as they walked along a plank path on Ozegahara marsh. In Toyama two school children were attacked and scratched on their upper torsos. In Iwate Prefecture three people were attacked in three towns, and one person was seriously injured. In July, an 81-year-old woman suffered a broken cheek bone after she was attacked by bears as she was gathering butterburs in Akita Prefecture.
In October 2004, two people were attacked and hurt in separate attacks by bears in Hyogo and Hiroshima prefectures. In Hyogo, a bear attacked an 82-year-old woman as she gathered flowers. She suffered serious injuries in her head. The same month a pair of bears attacked three different people in separate incidents in Toyama. A 77-year-old woman and a 76-year-old woman suffered facial scratched. A 90-year-old man broke his arm.
In 2006, three people were killed by black bears and 136 were injured. This the highest number of deaths by bear attacks ever, recorded. Bears showed up in many residential areas where they had never been seen before. In September 2006, a male middle school student in Otrimura, Nagano Prefecture was seriously injured in an attack by a bear on his way to school. In October a 71-year-old man was attacked and killed in Toyama Prefecture.
In November 2008, a bear attacked a woman at a vacation home in Karuizawamachi, Nagano Prefecture, leaving her with minor back injuries. The beare attacked the woman after jumping out of thicket of bushes and is believed to have been a cub that had just left his mother. In September 2009, a black bear attacked nine people at a bus terminal in a mountainous area of Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. Four people were hospitalized with injuries such as bite marks to the face but none were in serious condition. More than 100 people were at the bus terminal at the time.
Disturbing a hibernating black bear can be dangerous. Describing one such encounter during a research trip with biologist Kazuhiko Maita, Terry Domico wrote in “Bears of the World”: “The bear was inside a fallen tree trunk that lay on the ground at a 45 degrees angle. By using a radio locator to pinpoint the exact location if the bear, we calculated that it was asleep some 10 feet or so from the entrance at the high end of the log...As Maita's team cautiously approached th den entrance with their equipment, a very large (485 pound, 225 kilogram) male Asian black bear exploded from the entrance in attack. The team dropped everything and scattered, but the bear had singled out one of the graduate students who had fallen through the snow crust while trying to escape. In a moment the bear closed in on him. That was when I sprayed the animal with a blast from my can of deterrent. The graduate student scampered away, and the bear immediately turned on me, face to face, I hit him with another blast of spray. This time the bear wheeled around and ran down the mountains out of sight." The active ingredient in the spay was red pepper oil.
In the 2000s, black bears began terrorizing the forest-surrounded town of Iwaizumchi in Iwate Prefecture. The problem started when the animals began raiding cow barns in search of food. By 2009, about 40 bear-related problems were being reported a month. Farmers that suffered the most were given bear detecting devices and bear repellants that produced loud noises to scare the bears away. High voltage electric fences were also installed and hunters were hired to kill the bears.
In September 2001, the Mainichi Shimbun reported from Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture: “Four people, three of them elderly, were injured after a berserk black bear attacked them here Monday before it disappeared back into the woods. None of the injuries sustained were serious, but local officials are urging people in the area to be on the alert. Members of the Hanamaki Municipal Government and a local hunting club are currently searching for the bear, which could be the same animal spotted near a hot springs resort over the weekend. [Source: Mainichi Shimbun, September 24, 2001]
"When I first saw it, I thought it was a big black dog. But then I noticed a tuft of white hair on its chest and realized that it was a bear," said Hisako Morikawa, 71, the first of the bear's victims, who was bitten on the knee as she cut the grass in the garden of her home. "I've lived here for decades, but it's the first time I've ever seen a bear come this close to the city."
Morikawa said the bear was about 1.4 to 1.5 meters long. She said she had just picked up some chestnuts shortly after 6 a.m. and was heading into her house when she noticed the bear about 50 meters away in some nearby woods. The bear suddenly rushed at the old woman, who vainly tried to flee. The bear slammed into her back, knocking her to the ground. As Morikawa lay in terror, the bear nipped her knee before fleeing. Moments later, it attacked a 31-year-old woman in the neighborhood before again making its escape. About an hour later, it set upon a 67-year-old woman about 1.3 kilometers away from the scene of the earlier attacks. It was another hour before the bear struck again, this time assailing a 75-year-old man. Having completed its rampage, the bear fled to the safety of the woods. [Ibid]
Between April and September 2010, 82 bear attacks with 84 victims were reported in Japan. This is higher than the 52 bear attacks with 64 victims in 2009 but not as high as the 113 attacks in 2004 and 150 attacks in 2006. Of the 84 people attacked by bears, four---two in Hokkaido, one in Fukushima Prefecture and one in Tottori Prefecture---were killed.
Most of the attacks were like this one. In October 2010, in Kitaakita, Akita Prefecture, a 63-year-old man gathering mushrooms ran into three bears, apparently a family. The youngest bear bit the man on the leg, inflicting light injuries, before all three ran into the woods. [Source: Hiromasa Takeda and Takahiro Komazaki, Yomiuri Shimbun, October 24, 2010]
Encounters between bears and humans are often just as scary for the bears as the people. Toshiaki Shiraishi, an official of Toyama Municipal Family Park Zoo, said, "Usually making a noise or saying 'hey' or something will make a bear run away." But if a bear is agitated, taking more defensive measures could be required. "If you can't escape, squat down and curl up into a ball," Shiraishi said. "Covering your neck and the back of your head with your hands could help save you from a deadly wound." [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 24, 2010]
In May 1999, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported, a man was killed by a bear in Hokkaido. Two others were seriously injured. It was the first fatal bear attack in Japan in 9 years. The man was collecting wild plants when he was fatally attacked. When he did not return his family sent a search party out for him and found him dead. A short time later two women were out in the forest and presumably the same bear attacked them. They were not killed and are listed in serious condition in the hospital. Any animal is most dangerous when it loses it's fear of people. This bear was tracked down and killed. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, May 9, 1999]
In October 2005, a zookeeper died after being mauled on his head and leg by a brown bear at the Fuji Safari Park in Shizuoka. Japan Today reported: “Tomohiro Tamura, 34, who had been in charge of bears for three and a half years at the zoo, was pronounced dead at a hospital from blood loss, the police said. He had suffered injuries to his head and left leg. [Source: Japan Today, October 25, 2005]
In April 2012, six bears escaped from their enclosure at Japanese park, killing two women before hunters shot them dead. AP reported: “Police in northern Japan say a group of bears that escaped from their enclosure at a park have killed two people. Police said that two female employees in their 60s and 70s at the park near Kazuno City in Akita prefecture were believed to have been feeding the bears from outside the concrete fence before they escaped. Their mangled bodies were found hours after a colleague escaped and called for help. Hunters later shot and killed all six escaped bears. Police believe the bears climbed over the fence by climbing onto high-piled snowdrifts. They are investigating the case as possible professional negligence causing death. The privately owned park owns 32 other bears. [Source: AP, April 20, 2012]
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Rescue workers witnessed a bear climbing over a concrete wall to escape from an open-air play area at the Hachimantai Bear Farm in Kazuno, Akita Prefecture, where two female employees were killed by brown bears, sources said. Six bears, including the one seen by rescue workers, were killed by local hunters. They were believed to have escaped from the enclosure, climbing over the 4.5-meter-high wall by climbing up accumulated snow left in a corner of the play area. The Akita prefectural police found several bear tracks in the snow when they searched the site on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, April 22, 2012]
“Meanwhile, a male employee who was unharmed admitted to The Yomiuri Shimbun that the farm's employees had not removed any snow from the play area this winter. According to a local fire station, three rescue workers arrived near the farm's entrance at about 10:30 a.m.. When they inspected the site based on a report that bears had escaped, they saw a bear climbing over the wall. The police said the two victims were believed to be Tachi Tatehana, 69, and Take Tatehana, 75, both of the Hachimantai-Sakabitai district of Kazuno. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, April 22, 2012]
Et pour rappel; un épisode particulièrement dramatique : l'attaque du "Kesagake" à Sankebetsu en 1915.
Le « Kesagake » (ours brun de Sankebetsu), tua 7 personnes dans un village d'Hokkaido entre le 9 et le 14 décembre 1915, entrant dans plusieurs maisons et s'attaquant aux membres de 2 familles (Paterson 2001). L'évènement entraîna la fuite de la plupart des villageois et le lieu devint un village fantôme. Okawa Haruyoshi, qui fut blessé par l'ours lors de cet épisode alors qu'il était âgé de 7 ans, décida de tuer 10 plantigrades pour chaque victime humaine. De fait, il dépassa largement son objectif : quand il s'arrêta de chasser, à l'âge de 62 ans (en 1970) il avait tué 102 ours. Son fils, pour sa part, tua un animal de 500kgs en 1980(les ours bruns d'Hokkaïdo appartiennent à la variété géographique de l'ours brun de l'Oussouri).
The Sankebetsu brown bear incident, also referred to as the Rokusensawa bear attack or the Tomamae brown bear incident was the worst bear attack in Japanese history, killing seven settlers in Rokusensawa, Sankebetsu, Tomamae, Rumoi, Hokkaido.The incident took place between December 9 and 14, 1915 after a large brown bear woke up from hibernation and repeatedly attacked several houses in the area. [Source: Wikipedia]
At dawn on in mid-November in 1915, an Ussuri brown bear appeared at the Ikeda family's house in Sankebetsu Rokusen-sawa, about 30 kilometers inland from the west coast of Hokkaido-. The surprise encounter panicked the family horse, but the bear fled after taking only harvested corn. On November 20, 1915, the bear reappeared. Worrying about the safety of the horse, the head of the Ikeda family called on his second son, Kametaro-, and two Matagi from his own village and a neighbouring village. When the bear reappeared on November 30, they shot it but failed to kill it. The next morning they followed the bear's footprints, but a snowstorm forced them to turn back.
On December 9, 1915, at 10:30 a.m., the giant brown bear turned up at the home of the O-ta family. Abe Mayu, the farmer's wife, and Hasumi Mikio, a baby being taken care of by Mayu, were at the house. Mikio was bitten on the head and killed. Mayu fought back, apparently by throwing firewood, and tried to escape. She was overtaken, knocked down, and dragged into the forest. According to contemporary descriptions the scene resembled a slaughterhouse, with blood puddled on the farmhouse floor. [Source : Wikipedia]
Early in the morning on December 10, Saito- Ishigoro- and Miyoke Yasutaro- left the village on their respective errands. Meanwhile a search party comprising thirty men was organized to capture the brown bear and recover the remains of Mayu. This group entered the forest and had advanced no more than 150 meters when it met the brown bear. Five men shot at the bear, but only one managed to hit it. The enraged animal nevertheless retreated, and the men escaped injury. After the bear had fled, the hunters scouted the area and discovered dried blood on the snow at the base of a Sakhalin fir tree. Beneath the snow was the corpse of Mayu with only the head and parts of the legs remaining. The bear had cached the body of Mayu in the snow in an attempt to preserve it, as well as to hide it from scavengers. The villagers believed that once the bear had a taste for human flesh, its return to the settlement was assured. [Source: Wikipedia]
Later, Yayo, Miyoke Yasutaro-'s wife, was preparing a late meal while carrying her fourth son, Umekichi, on her back. She heard a rumbling noise outside, but before she could investigate, the bear broke through a window and entered the house. The cook pot on the hearth was overturned, dousing the flames, and in the ensuing panic the oil lamp was put out as well, plunging the house into darkness. Yayo tried to flee the house, but her second son, Yu-jiro-, clung to her legs, tripping her as she ran. The bear attacked her and bit Umekichi. [Source : Wikipedia]
Odo had remained at the house as the only bodyguard. When he ran for the door, the bear released the mother and child to pursue him. Yayo then escaped with her children. Odo attempted to hide behind furniture, but was clawed in the back. The bear then mauled Kinzo-, the third son of the Miyoke family, and Haruyoshi, the fourth son of the Saito family, killing them, and bit Iwao, third son of Saito- family. Next to be targeted was Take, Saito- Ishigoro-'s pregnant wife. As the animal advanced she pled for her life and that of her unborn child, but it was in vain. She too was attacked, killed, and eaten. [Source : Wikipedia]
The corps of guardsmen who had tracked the bear downriver realized that they were not, in fact, on its trail. As they hurried back to the settlement, a seriously injured Yayo met them and related the attack at the Miyoke family's house. The corps raced there to rescue any survivors. When they arrived, the house was dark, but sounds of an attack emerged. Believing that the bear had killed everyone inside, some of the guardsmen proposed setting the house on fire. Yayo, hoping that some of the children still lived, forbade this.
The guardsmen divided into two groups: one, consisting of ten men, stood guard at the door while the other group went to the back of the house. When given a signal, the group at the rear set up a racket, shouting and rattling their weapons. As expected, the bear appeared at the front door. The men there had bunched up, with lines of fire blocked by the guard at their head, whose own rifle misfired. Amid the general confusion and risk of crossfire, the bear escaped into the night. Carrying torches made of birch bark, they entered the house and beheld the results of the attack. [Source : Wikipedia]
Rikizo- and Hisano, first son and daughter of the same relatives, were injured, but lived. The village people gathered in the school, and seriously injured people were accommodated in the Tsuji family house near the river. In two days, six people had lost their lives, one of them pregnant. After the incident, only veterans of the Russo-Japanese War remained at their posts. Yamamoto Heikichi and "Kesagake" Meanwhile, Saito- Ishigoro-, unaware of the family's fate, filed a report with authorities and the district police before returning to Tomakomai and lodging at a local hotel there. Miyoke Yasutaro- had heard that a man named Yamamoto Heikichi was an expert bear hunter, and so paid a visit to his house. Yamamoto was certain that the bear was "Kesagake" or "the diagonal slash from the shoulder", which had previously been blamed for the mauling and deaths of three women but by now he had pawned his gun for money to buy alcohol, and refused Miyoke's request for aid. Unable to return home, Yasutaro- stayed in Onishika, now Obiracho-. [Source : Wikipedia]
On December 11, Miyoke Yasutaro- and Saito- Ishigoro- returned to Sankebetsu. Noticing the villagers gathered at the branch school, the two pieced together the story of the mauling. A group of men was formed to kill the bear, including Miyoke and Saito-. They decided to wait for the bear at Miyoke's residence, believing that the bear would reappear. The night passed with no attack. [Source: Wikipedia]
The news of the bear's appearance in Sankebetsu reached the Hokkaido- Government Office, and under the leadership of the Hoboro (now Haboro town) branch police station, a sniper team was organized. Guns and volunteers for the team were gathered from nearby towns, and after getting permission from "Teishitsu Rinya kyoku" (the Imperial Forestry Agency", now "Rin'ya cho-"), the sniper team went to Sankebetsu that evening. Chief Inspector Suga, the branch office commissioner, went up the Rokusen sawa with the aim of viewing the Miyoke family house and assessing the state of the sniper team and met all those who got off the mountain pass. [Source : Wikipedia]
The brown bear did not appear on December 12. Thinking of the future, the team decided to exterminate the bear even if they had to mobilize every possible resource. It was decided that the brown bear would most probably try to retrieve the bodies of those it had killed but there were no remains in the Miyoke family house. Therefore, a new plan was proposed: to attempt to lure out the brown bear with the corpse of a victim. The plan was widely condemned, especially by the O-ta, Saito-, and Miyoke families but it was decided that, for the future of the village, it was the best plan. Within the day, the strategy was executed. The sniper team consisted of six members, which now included Yamamoto Heikichi waited, but the bear stopped and appeared to check the inside of the house then returned to the forest. The bear did not appear again that night, and so the plan ended in failure. [Source : Wikipedia]
At dawn, a search team discovered that the O-ta family's house was ransacked. The bear had eaten the people's winter food stockpile and ransacked the houses. The bear had damaged at least eight houses, but so far no one could find it. Suga motivated the men by cheering from the village outside. Given that there were now 60 armed men, it was decided that they should hunt in the surrounding mountains. Kesagake now seemed to lack prudence and stretched its territory downstream. The police captain, Suga, recognized the increasing risk of the situation. He made an ice bridge as a line of defence, then arranged snipers and guards. [Source : Wikipedia]
That night, a sniper at the bridge thought he saw something in the shadows of the tree stumps on the opposite shore. Receiving this information, Suga thought it might be a man's shadow. When he spoke to it, however, he received no reply and ordered the snipers to open fire. At that moment the shadow, obviously that of the bear, disappeared into the forest. They were disappointed, having failed to kill the bear, but the captain thought he had heard some response from it. [Source : Wikipedia]
The next morning, a team investigated the opposite shore and found a bear's footprint and blood there. Given that Kesagake had again been wounded, that snowstorms appeared imminent and since fresh snow could cover any tracks, it was decided that this was the most critical opportunity to hunt down and kill the bear. It was Yamamoto and Ikeda Kamejiro-, a guide, who immediately set out after the bear. Yamamoto decided to track the bear with a team of two, as they would be quicker than a larger team. This was particularly important given the possibility of a snowstorm and the loss of any tracks. [Source: Wikipedia]
Yamamoto was familiar with Kesagake's behaviour and successfully tracked him down. Yamamoto spotted Kesagake resting near a Japanese oak. He approached to within 20 meters of the bear and shot at Kesagake. His first shot hit the bear's heart and the second shot his head. When measured, the bear was 340 kg (749 lbs) and 2.7 m (8.85 ft) tall. A necropsy was carried out on the bear during which parts of his victims were found in his stomach. While at the time the skull and some of the fur of the bear were kept, they later were lost and no traces of Kesagake are left. [Source : Wikipedia]
Yayo, who received head wounds in the attack, made a full recovery, but Miyoke Umekichi, who was bitten by the bear as the child was being carried by its mother, died less than three years later from the wounds he had suffered. Odo recovered from injury and returned to work, but next spring he fell into a river and died. It was unclear whether the injury inflicted by the brown bear had caused the accident. After the attack, most of the villagers of Rokusen sawa soon left, and the town rapidly transformed into a ghost town. [Source : Wikipedia]
O-kawa Haruyoshi, who was seven years old and the son of the Sankebetsu village mayor at the time of the incident, grew up to become an excellent bear hunter. He swore an oath to kill ten bears for every victim of the attack. By the time he reached the age of 62, he had killed 102 bears. He then retired and constructed the bear harm cenotaph, a shrine where people can pray for the dead villagers. Takayoshi, Haruyoshi's son, in 1980---after an eight-year chase---hunted down a 500 kg brown bear who was nicknamed the north sea Taro. [Source : Wikipedia]