Japanese black bear
Ursus thibetanus japonicus

The Japanese black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicus ) is a subspecies of the Asian black bear that lives on two main islands of Japan: Honshu and Shikoku. There are said to be 10,000 black bears in Japan. The population of black bears on Shikoku is endangered at less than 30 individuals and the last confirmed sighting of a bear on the island of Kyushu was in 1987 making them likely extinct on the island prior to the 21st century. There is a high price on bear parts in the black market, which threatens all bear populations in Japan. This particular species of bear are typically smaller with males only reaching 60–120 kilograms (130–260 lb) and females only weighing about 40–100 kilograms (88–220 lb). Their body length is about 120–140 centimetres (47–55 in) long.



The bears live on two Japanese islands: Honshu and Shikoku. They can be found in the northeastern high snow region and the southwestern low snow region; however, they have been spotted as high as the alpine region more than 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) high. They tend to live in areas where there is an abundance of grasses and trees with berries to support their diet.

Habits and Lifestyle

Diet and Nutrition

These bears are typically herbivorous, eating mainly grasses and herbs during the spring. During the summer, they switch to berries and nuts to feed themselves for their hibernation. The bear is able to get the berries and nuts by climbing trees and using their claws to grab the food. These animals can be omnivorous and eat other wild animals and livestock when there is a need. Like other bears, cannibalism occurs, as has been demonstrated when bone fragments and claws of a cub were found inside the stomach of a male black bear.



There has been a huge impact on Japanese black bears' populations due to human interference. Habitat destruction is a problem for these bears as peoples' villages begin to grow. Over-hunting and poaching is also a problem. Bears' parts can be sold on the black market for a high price, which makes them very desirable. People kill a lot of these bears, reducing their numbers drastically. Because of this and the carrying capacity reduction due to habitat destruction has resulted in the recognition that the Japanese black bear is at a high risk of extinction. The species will likely be gone within the next 100 years at the rate they are currently declining.


1. Japanese black bear Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_black_bear

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