The ripening persimmon on trees is an indication that autumn has truly arrived. The orange fruit is also, however, a temptation for bears fattening up before their winter hibernation. Though it may seem surprising, bears are not uncommon in Japan, with Asian black bears (the species found on Honshu) estimated to number around 15000. Bear attacks have become more common in recent years, partly due to the fact that depopulation in the countryside has led to a large amount of untended land, attracting bears which scavenge for food and bringing them nearer human settlements. Asian black bears are omnivores, however will attack humans if surprised or threatened; their size and speed means that they can be deadly if provoked. Whilst protection measures are in place - such as the promotion of bear bells, bear sighting alarms and the placement of bear traps - it should be remembered that the long term maintenance of bear populations is important from an conservation standpoint. Like all wildlife, the bears should be respected and protected. Just make sure to take precautions if venturing into the forest.