Bear alert after man dies in Japan and police officers mauled while rescuing body

Two bears were spotted in Japan (PA)
Two bears were spotted in Japan (PA)

A bear alert has been issued in northeast Japan after a man was found dead with gash wounds and two police officers were left with serious injuries.

Two wild bears, approximately 50cm tall, were spotted in the Akita and Fukushima Prefectures on Saturday. They attacked the officers while they were recovering the body.

The man had gone hunting for bamboo shoots in the mountains a few days earlier, where he was found dead with gash wounds.

It remains unclear if he died due to a bear attack.

The officers are in serious condition, though not life-threatening, reports said.

In response, some wooded areas have been closed off in Kazuno "for an indefinite time," officials said in a statement.

News footage showed police officers putting up signs warning people to stay out of mountainous areas where the bears were sighted.

Over the weekend, patrol cars were dispatched together with a helicopter search to locate the bears.

Akita Prefectural Police have urged people to keep bells and other noise-producing devices on hand to scare the bears away in case of an encounter, and not to go out at night.

Thousands of Asiatic black bears live in the wild throughout Japan. Attacks have risen as the borders blur between the bears' habitats and people's dwellings.

The scarcity of acorns, berries and other food, possibly connected to climate change, is also blamed for the surge in bear encounters.