The Korea Herald


Jirisan bear sighting raises concerns: experts reassure public on low attack risk

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : June 2, 2024 - 11:23

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An Asiatic black bear (Yonhap) An Asiatic black bear (Yonhap)

A recent sighting of an Asiatic black bear on the Jirisan trail has raised safety concerns. However, the government has moved to reassure the public, noting that the possibility of bear attacks on humans is low due to their gentle and cautious nature.

Currently, a total of 89 Asiatic black bears, including four cubs, reside around Jirisan, according to the Korea National Park Service under the Environment Ministry. These bears move between Jirisan and the nearby Deogyusan areas, rarely encountering humans as they prefer deep forests without human presence.

However, bears are more frequently spotted during the mating period from June to August, as their activity range expands in search of a mate. Last month, one bear was seen on a trail in Jirisan but turned around and left in the opposite direction as soon as it saw people.

“As bears are gentle and hard to spot, it is safe to follow designated trails. Avoid leaving the trail as you might accidentally enter areas that bears inhabit,” said Jung Woo-jin, head of the National Park Institute for Wildlife Conservation. “As the usual journey is safe, there is no need to be overly fearful.”

The Korea National Park Service advises that if you encounter bears in the mountains, avoid behavior that may provoke them, such as taking photos or feeding them. If you see bears from a distance, leave the area quietly. Pretending to be dead is not advisable, as bears may bite or kick you out of curiosity.