The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Hikers must take caution as moon bears arise from slumber

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : May 26, 2023 - 14:05

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The Ministry of Environment issued guidelines for the safety of hikers, as moon bears inhabiting the mountainous area of Jirisan are about to end their hibernation, Friday.

Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears due to the moon-like pattern on their chest, are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s endangered animal list as "vulnerable."

As of this year, 86 Asiatic black bears are known to be living at Jirisan, which includes seven cubs born this year. Mother bears with cubs have a strong protective instinct, which makes them more dangerous, added the ministry.

Asiatic black bears generally tend to avoid people, so there is little possibility of encountering them if one sticks to the designated trail routes. According to an analysis of 30,000 Asiatic black bears' location information collected between 2013 and 2022, the bears were observed within 10 meters around the trail only 0.44 percent of the time.

One should walk backward without showing the back or avoiding eyes upon encountering an Asiatic black bear at a close distance.

The Ministry of Environment plans to set up banners at 450 locations near trail entrances to announce possible bear appearances and to distribute accident prevention items such as bells and whistles to visitors. Announcement systems will be increased from 100 to 120.