TOKYO, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Japanese officials say there have been 82 bear attacks so far this year and warned people to use caution when going into bear habitats.
Japan's Environmental Ministry said attacks this time of year are more common because bears are foraging for food ahead of their annual hibernation, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.
The number of victims from this year's attacks, 84, easily eclipses the 64 victims from fiscal 2009, the report said.
"We're more likely to come across bears around this time of year as they search for enough nutrition before going into hibernation," a wildlife official said. "People should be very careful when gathering edible wild plants or going into the wild to view the autumn foliage."
Iwate and Nagano prefectures have reported 12 attacks each, followed by Fukushima with seven, while Akita and Gunma each reported six.
There were 150 bear attack victims in 2006 and 113 people were attacked by bears in fiscal 2004.