The brown bear (ezo higuma) is common to wilderness areas of Hokkaidō, with around 200 thought to be living in the Shiretoko-hantõ. The bears, which can grow to a height of 2m and weigh up to 400kg, can be dangerous if surprised. If you’re planning a hiking trip in these parts, it is important to be alert for bears and take appropriate precautions so you don’t disturb them. Carrying a bell that jangles as you walk is a good idea as this will warn bears of your approach and hopefully keep them away. It’s also vital, if carrying food, that you take great care to keep this away from bears. Don’t discard food scraps around where you camp – leave them until you reach a river or stream where they can be washed away. If you do encounter a bear, don’t run away – this will be an invitation for them to chase you – and don’t make any sudden movements or look them directly in the eyes. Try to remain as still as possible until the bear gets bored and moves on.

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