Four people have been killed by bear attacks in Japan over three weeks.

The body of the fourth victim was found in a forest in northern Japan on Friday. Whilst the mauled corpse has yet to be identified, police in Akita Prefecture were reportedly searching for Tsuwa Suzuki, a 74-year-old woman who was reported missing a day earlier.

Japanese officials have feared that the separate attacks may have been the work of a single animal that has developed a “taste for human flesh”. Local vet Takeshi Komatsu told Kyodo News Agency, “after tasting human flesh (for the first time), the bear may have realised that it can eat them”.

According to newspaper Asahi Shimbun, Local hunters reportedly killed a bear 10 metres from the spot where the mauled corpse was discovered, but it remains unclear whether the victim was killed by that particular animal.

The rate of attacks over the past few weeks has been abnormally high. Only eight bear-related deaths were recorded in the area between 1970 and 2015, according to the Independent.

Officials have now warned foragers to refrain from entering the woodland and to carry a bell to scare off any nearby bears.

The Week claims that 1,2000 brown bear and black Asiatic bear sightings were recorded in northern Japan this year, which is double that of 2015.

Remember, if it’s brown, lay down, if it’s black, fight back, if it’s white… say goodnight.

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