Brown bear attacks small truck in Hokkaido

A brown bear attacked a small truck on a forest road in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido on Sunday.

Police say a man in his 50s was driving the truck in Nemuro City. He had gone to gather edible wild plants on a mountain.

Dashcam footage released by the police shows the bear appearing suddenly from the right, ramming into the truck and swinging its front paw down on the windshield.

The footage also shows what appears to be a bear cub running on the left side of the road just before the bigger bear comes into view.

Police say the truck's driver and his passenger were not injured. But the vehicle's windshield was cracked and its wipers and bumper were damaged.

Police urge people to take precautions when going to mountains, such as avoiding acting alone.

Prefectural officials say more than 12,000 brown bears were estimated to inhabit Hokkaido as of the end of 2022. The figure increased 2.3-fold over the past three decades.

Officials say the increase in the number of bears and the prefecture-wide shortage of acorns last year have forced more bears to approach areas where people live in search of food.

The Environment Ministry says 1,422 bears were put down in Hokkaido in fiscal 2023, which ended in March. The figure is up 626 from the previous year and the highest on record since 1962.