Hunters in Japan’s remote north have killed an elusive and infamous brown bear nicknamed “Ninja” that attacked at least 66 cows, officials said Tuesday.
The exploits of “OSO18” — as the bear was named — attracted considerable news coverage including dramatic television documentaries.
The animal is believed to have started attacking livestock in 2019 in eastern areas of Hokkaido, Japan’s sparsely populated main northern island.
Its habit of not eating the dairy cows that it attacked — only half of its 66 victims died — confused experts, and it eluded years of efforts to capture or kill it.
Late last month, the bear was shot dead.
“A brown bear was hunted on July 30, and various analyses, including DNA testing, resulted in a confirmation that it was OSO18,” Tadayoshi Takeda, an official with the Hokkaido regional government, told AFP on Tuesday.
“I am sure local residents are relieved to hear this news,” he said.
Brown bears in Japan only live in Hokkaido where their population is estimated at almost 12,000 but growing, causing increasing problems as they come into contact with humans.
In May, authorities believe a man was mauled andin Hokkaido after a human head was found near a lake.
In 2021 four people were killed in incidents involving bears and 10 were injured — a record number. That year, a wild brown bear in Hokkaidoand disrupted flights at an airport before being shot and killed.
Bears were also blamed for around $2 million worth of damage to crops, the highest on record.
Brown bears roam mainly in forests, but experts say they have been increasingly spotted in inhabited areas looking for food, especially during warm weather. In 2020, a town plagued by wild bears in Hokkaidoto howl at the animals and scare them off.
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