Bear spotted with waders in mouth may have eaten angler

 Ussuri brown bear on rock
Ussuri brown bear on rock

Police in Hokkaido, Japan, are searching for any sign of a missing angler who they believe may have been eaten by a bear after a human head was found near the lake where he was fishing.

According to Japanese news agency Kyodo News, 54-year-old Toshihiro Nishikawa, was last seen setting out on a fishing expedition on Lake Shumarinai, an artificial lake in Shumarinai Prefectural Natural Park on Sunday. He was unaccompanied when a local boat operator dropped him off.

One of the operator's employees raised the alarm later that day after spotting a bear with a pair of waders dangling from his mouth. The employee tried to call Nishikawa, but the angler didn't answer.

Local police began hunting for the bear, and according to a town official one animal was killed on Monday. However, the team also discovered a human head during their search. Work is currently underway to determine whether it belongs to Nishikawa.

Bears in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is home to the Ussuri brown bear, which is a slightly smaller cousin to the grizzly found in North America, but much larger than the Japanese black bear found on the mainland.

They are usually wary of humans, but Hokkaido police say sightings are on the rise, with 339 reports so far this year – 40 more than the same period in 2022.