7-Year-Old Boy Missing After Parents Left Him In Brown Bear-Infested Woods To Punish Him

A 7-year-old boy is now missing after his parent sought to punish him by driving off and leaving him alone in the brown bear-infested woods of a Japanese mountain range where they were taking a family hike.

According to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, the parents of 7-year-old Yamato Tanooka reported him missing on Saturday, but initially lied about exactly how they lost track of the boy. The parents first told the police that their son had gone missing in the woods found on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido while they were all on a walk, having initially gone there to forage for plants and berries.

7-year-old boy left in woods infested with wild bears to punish him now missing. [Photo released during search]
7-year-old boy left in woods infested with wild bears to punish him now missing. [Photo released during search]Over 150 rescuers became involved in the hunt for Yamato Tanooka and it seems that after the second day of searching, the parents had an attack of their conscience as they then admitted to the police that they had lied. The boy's own parents said that they and had actually left their 7-year-old alone in the forest deliberately. They had driven off without him for a few minutes as a way to punish him. They told the authorities that though they had returned to the spot where they left him after about five minutes, only going about 500 meters (a third of a mile), when they returned, their son was nowhere to be found.

According to the International Business Times, the police released a statement about the truth behind the reason the second grade boy is now lost in the woods once they learned it was to punish him.

"The parents left the boy in the mountains as a punishment. They said they went back to the site immediately but the boy was no longer there."


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New reports of the event have not indicated what exactly the parents sought to punish the boy for. But they left him alone in woods that are known to house potentially deadly brown bears.

The missing boy's father said that he had not dared to tell the whole truth when first reporting Yamato missing and requesting help from others in the search. The revelation of how the boy first became missing has of course not impacted the search, and police and firefighters have indicated that they have every intention of continuing to look for him. It is expected that the hundreds of emergency service workers combing the area will keep going and the search for the boy will continue through the night once more.

The woods of the Hokkaido mountain range where the second grader was left as punishment is actually the home of a particular species of wild brown bear. Though general knowledge is that bears do not attack unless provoked, brown bears actually do have a history of killing humans and within the first 57 years of the 20th century it was reported that more than 140 people were killed by brown bears.

The most famous brown bear attack in Japan was actually on the island of Hokkaido when, in 1915, a 836-pound and seven-foot tall brown bear killed seven people and injured three more by attacking the same village twice.

Nonetheless, brown bears do tend to be more aggressive towards each other than to humans, with the male of the species being the most aggressive. Female brown bears on Hokkaido's Shiretoko Peninsula are actually known to approach humans peacefully, even with their cubs.

[Photo Courtesy of Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images]