An Asian black bear entered a mountain bus terminal in central Japan and then started attacking visitors and employees. Nine people were injured, four seriously, before the bear was cornered and finally shot by local hunters at the request of police.
The incident started at a little after 2pm yesterday, September 18th (JST), at the Hita-Nyukawa Noriraku Mountain Bus Terminal in Gifu prefecture, about 170 miles northwest of Tokyo, according to reports.
The 4 or 5 year old male black bear, which is said to have been a little over 4-feet long and 2.5-feet tall, entered the terminal parking lot from a mountain path and proceeded to start chasing one visitor. Another visitor tried to beat back the bear with a stick, but the bear retaliated, seriously injuring the man. Several employees then tried to help the injured man, but were also wounded by the bear, according to reports.
Other people tried to chase off the bear by honking car horns, but ended up only causing it to retreat into the terminal's building. Several more people were harmed in the process. A panic began, but finally one employee was able to corner the bear into a souvenir shop by spraying a fire extinguisher and then trapping it in the shop by closing the shop's shutters.
The police eventually arrived with several local hunters and put the bear down. The injured were evacuated to local hospitals via ambulance and medical helicopter. In total, 7 men and 2 women were reported to have been hurt. The most severe received major wounds to face, as well as broken bones and other injuries.
The attack has come during a heavy fall travel period that has been dubbed “Silver Week.” A researcher from the Japan Bear Network told Japanese reporters that “this time is the number one most dangerous period” within the year for encounters between humans and bears. Bears start feverishly looking for food to prepare for their winter hibernation. “While bears are obsessing over food, cases of contact with humans significantly increase,” the researcher warned. He also said, “You absolutely shouldn’t try to scare off a bear with a stick or loud noises.”