(TOKYO) — Half-a-dozen bears escaped from a remote park in northwest Japan on Friday, mauling two women to death before they were hunted down and killed.
A local hunting group was called in to assist police and firefighters. All six animals were found and killed within five hours after the incident began.
Akita Prefectural Police spokesman Haruki Itou told ABC News there was no chance to simply tranquilize the bears.
“We could not get anywhere near the animals, but could not afford to let them escape,” Itou said.
Police received an emergency call from an employee at the Hachimantai Bear Farm in Kazuno City around 10 a.m., saying a fellow worker, one of three on site, had been attacked. They found the 76-year-old woman’s body near the cages, mauled to death, half an hour later.
The discovery triggered an area-wide search for the missing animals. Nearby roads were shut down while police went door to door, calling on residents and businesses in surrounding areas to stay indoors. Schools located 10 miles from the park were placed on lockdown, according to a city official.
The bears did not get very far. Hunters found them wandering around their cages, Itou said.
Police found the body of a 69-year-old woman nearby, nearly six hours after the incident began.
This is the first time bears have escaped from the Hachimantai Farm, home to nearly 40 bears in a remote part of Akita Prefecture.
Itou said he believed all the animals had been accounted for.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN