Rampaging bear in Japan injures four

Japanese officials search for a wild brown bear on the loose in the northern city of Sapporo.
Japanese officials search for a wild brown bear on the loose in the northern city of Sapporo.

A wild brown bear on the the loose in a city in northern Japan has wounded four people, entered a military camp and disrupted flights at an airport before being shot and killed by authorities.

The bear was seen wandering through the streets of Sapporo in the early hours of Friday, triggering a number of calls to police.

Over the next eight hours, Hokkaido prefectural police said the bear injured a woman in her 80s, a man in his 70s, and a man in his 40s before attacking a soldier.

Police said the condition of those injured was not known, but the Asahi newspaper reported the man in his 40s suffered serious injuries to his chest, back and limbs after he was mauled while walking on the street.

Footage on local television showed the bear wandering a street in Sapporo.

Chased by a car, it crossed a busy road and forced its way into the Ground Self-Defence Force's Camp Okadama.

The bear knocked down a uniformed soldier on duty at the gate.

The soldier suffered cuts to his chest and stomach, but his injuries were not life-threatening, according to the Defence Ministry.

After running through the camp, the bear intruded onto the runway at a nearby airport, causing several flights to be grounded.

A local forest was the bear's next port of call, where it was shot by local hunters.

Toshihiro Hamada, an official at Sapporo city environmental department, said the bear's presence in town was a surprise and officials were investigating how the animal ended up there.

"We are sorry that four people were injured," Hamada said.

Brown bears roam mainly in Hokkaido forests, but experts say they have been increasingly spotted in inhabited areas looking for food, especially during the summer.

Australian Associated Press