The Yezo Brown Bear or Ussuri brown bear (Ursus arctos lasiotus) is Japan's largest land animal, usually growing to between 150-250kg but sometimes reaching as much as 500kg.
Related to the North American grizzly, the Yezo Brown Bear (higuma in Japanese) is found in Hokkaido, parts of North Korea, China and Russia. Possibly due to their weight, adult bears do not climb trees and den up in holes during the winter. The higuma habitat covers about 50% of Hokkaido mainly concentrated in Oshima and Shiretoko Peninsula.
Yezo Brown Bears feed on ants, insects, fish, small mammals (including Ezo deer), shoots and seeds. Yezo Brown Bears were responsible for 23 bear attacks between 1990-2001 of which there were 8 fatalities. Each year hundreds of bears are culled in Hokkaido as they encroach on human crops.
The most famous bear attack in Japanese history occurred in December 1915 at Sankei in the Sankebetsu district of Hokkaido. A 2.7 m tall, 380 kg bear, named Kesagake attacked the village of Tomamae, later returning to the village the night after the first attack during the wake for the earlier victims. In total 7 people were killed and 3 severely injured by the bear.
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