Authorities in Japan have put residents around mountain forests on high alert after recent bear attacks have led to the death of four people.

Though officials have set traps, they have also told people not to go into the mountains in search of plants and vegetables, as the number of fatal attacks in Akita this year is already half the eight deaths reported in the area between 1979 and last year.

The most recent of the cases was discovered by Police in Akita prefecture at the weekend in a mountain forest. The body of a 74 years old woman suspected to have been killed by a bear was found.

The victim was reported to have gone to pick edible wild plants in the mountain forest when she suffered injuries so horrific that local authorities were initially unable to identify her.

Prior to her death, three men died from what have been described as “severe” injuries sustained in separate attacks in the same area.

The men were foraging for bamboo shoots when they were attacked, Japanese media reported.

According to a loca vet, Takeshi Komatsu, it was possible that the four were killed by the same bear.

“After tasting human flesh (for the first time), the bear may have realised that it can eat them,” Komatsu told Kyodo news agency.

Sightings of brown bears and black Asiatic bears in northern Japan have risen to over 1,200 already this year, almost twice the number reported last year. In some cases, the animals have been spotted near residential areas.

Author: Ope Adedeji