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Charging bear attacks karate practitioner in Japan: "I thought I should make my move or else I will be killed"

Bear attacks in Japan at record high
Bear attacks in Japan at record high as the animals struggle to find food 03:05

A pair of bears picked the wrong person to mess with Thursday in Japan when they approached a 50-year-old karate practitioner only to be kicked away, police and media said, marking the latest in a spate of attacks in the country in recent months.

Masato Fukuda was lightly injured in his encounter with the bears on Thursday morning in Nayoro city, on the northern island of Hokkaido, police told AFP.

The man was visiting from Japan's central Aichi region to see a waterfall in Nayoro's mountainous area when he chanced upon the two brown bears poking their faces out of bushes, the Mainichi newspaper reported.

One of them came towards him — but unfortunately for the animal, Fukuda was experienced in the martial art of karate, according to media reports.

"I thought I should make my move or else I will be killed," he told a local broadcaster.

Fukuda kicked it in the face — twice — and in the process twisted his leg, but his attack swiftly scared away the hapless duo, reports said.

Both animals looked to be about five feet tall, according to media. Brown bears can weigh 1,100 pounds and outrun a human.

The incident comes about eight years after a karate black belt fended off a charging brown bear while he was fishing in Japan, the Mainichi newspaper reported. That man suffered bite and claw marks on the right side of his upper body, head and arms. 

There were a record 193 bear attacks in Japan last year, six of them fatal, marking the highest number since counting began in 2006.

In November, a bear attack was suspected after a college student was found dead on a mountain in northern Japan. Last May, police said at the time that they believed the man was mauled and decapitated by a brown bear after a human head was found in the northern part of the island.

Experts told CBS News that there are primarily two reasons for the surge in attacks. First, a dry summer left fewer acorns and beech nuts — their main food — so hunger has made them bold. Second, as Japan's population shrinks, humans are leaving rural areas, and bears are moving in.

"Then that area recovered to the forest, so bears have a chance to expand their range," biologist Koji Yamazaki, from Tokyo University of Agriculture, told CBS News. 

Last August, hunters killed an elusive brown bear nicknamed "Ninja" in the northern part of Japan after it attacked at least 66 cows, the Associated Press reported. And, in early October, local Japanese officials and media outlets reported that three bears were euthanized after sneaking into a tatami mat factory in the northern part of the country.

Japanese town uses "Monster Wolf" robots to deter bears 01:14
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