Although my recent trip to east Hokkaido was pretty quiet birdwise I did get excellent views of Brown Bear. A mother and her 2 cubs were feeding right next to the road.
These photos were taken from the car. The bears caused a small traffic jam and a couple of park officials armed with bear spray were nervously looking on and telling people to stay in their cars.
After a few minutes the bears walked down the road a bit and disappeared back into the forest.
Brown Bears also occur in the Hakodate area (I’ve seen them a couple of times and often see tracks/scat) but sadly are often shot if they come near towns or villages.
*EDITED TO ADD* Apparently this is becoming a common occurence in Shiretoko and the officials are getting a bit worried about people getting too close and the bears becoming too accustomized to people/cars which may present problems in the future. This exact same sighting (and several others) was featured on a local news program showing the potential dangers of such encounters . The broadcast went on to show subsequent incidents with even larger traffic jams and people getting out of cars very close to bears.
In hindsight maybe we should have just driven past and not joined the line of cars. I don’t really know what should be done, I mean it’s pretty exciting to see a bear so close and a massive part of the attraction of Shiretoko is the fact there are bears there. Perhaps they should enforce a strict no stopping rule on parts of the road where bears are known to feed?