Last year, when the Hokkaido Prefectural Government asked municipalities for their views on compiling a plan to manage brown bears, many local governments called for the need to clarify the role of police in cases when brown bears are spotted in urban areas.

Such feedback reflects a sense of crisis among municipalities that if the current situation is left as is, without any effective measures being taken, it could lead to people getting harmed.

Along with the rise in the brown bear population, the animal is increasingly being spotted in urban areas. Many municipalities have urged the Hokkaido government to resume so-called spring brown bear hunting — shooting bears in remote mountains while there is still snow remaining, regardless of whether or not damage has been reported around human dwellings.