Bear rampages through Sapporo residential area, injures four

A bear walking through a Sapporo residential neighborhood (around 7:55 a.m. on June 18 in Higashi Ward, Sapporo City)

In the predawn hours of June 18, a bear appeared in a residential area in the Higashi Ward of Sapporo. According to the Hokkaido Prefectural Police, four people were assaulted and brought in: a male in his 70s, a female in her 80s, a male in his 40s, and a male Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Officer in his 40s. All of the victims survived. The bear was approximately two meters in height. Around 11:15 a.m. on the same day, a hunter shot and killed the bear with a hunting rifle near the Okadama Airport in Higashi Ward.

According to the Sapporo Area Higashi Police Station, approximately 30 bear sighting reports from the area flooded in up to 10:30 a.m. on that day.

At around 5:50 a.m. of that day, a male in his 70s and a female in her 80s were assaulted in rapid succession on the street while taking out their trash. The male was clawed on his knee and hip area, the female was clawed on her back and elbow, and both sustained light wounds. At around 7:15 a.m. a male in his 40s walking on the street near the Sapporo Municipal Subway Shindo Higashi Station was clawed on his back, hand, and foot, and sustained heavy injuries including rib breakage.

40 minutes later at around 7:55 a.m. a male Self-Defense Force Officer guarding the main entrance to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Camp Okadama in the Okadama area of Higashi Ward, a kilometer away from the previous attack, was injured on his side. The bear then breached the Camp unimpeded, climbed over the approximately 1.8-meter-tall barrier, and escaped into the bushes approximately 200 meters northeast of the Camp.

The Hokkaido Prefectural Police surveilled the bear via helicopter and protected the area with several dozens of patrol cars. In response to a request from the police department, four hunters from the Sapporo Branch of the Hokkaido Hunting Association joined the effort. The police department ordered extermination based on Article 4 of the Police Duties Execution Act (Averting Present Danger). At a little past 11:00 a.m., a hunter shot the bear, who was near the bushes. The bear was a male, estimated at five years of age.

According to sources including the MLIT Okadama Airport Office, an air-traffic controller saw the bear on the Okadama Airport runway at around 8:05 a.m. The Hokkaido Air System (HAC) 2861 flight from Okadama to Kushiro (26 passengers and crew members), which was already preparing for takeoff, was immediately cancelled. Afterwards, a total of eight morning flights connecting Okadama to Kushiro, Hakodate, and Misawa were also cancelled. After the bear was exterminated, flight service resumed from the afternoon onward.

All of the sightings and attacks happened near the Toho Subway Line in an urban area with residential neighborhoods and commercial facilities. The closest sighting was approximately 2.5 kilometers from JR Sapporo Station.


Okadama Airport