National park officials in Khon Kaen yesterday launched a hunt for two Asian black bears after five villagers were attacked as the animals searched for food on Tuesday.
The “capture them alive” order was issued by provincial governor Somsak Jangtrukul.
He also said that the villagers who were attacked, one a pregnant woman, were uninjured.
The provincial governor was reported to have told the media that the bears, listed as an endangered species, would be returned to the wild.
He also instructed villagers in at-risk areas, Ban Thep Prathan and Ban Thep Chomphu villages in tambon Boriboon, Si Chomphu district, to stay inside their homes.
According to officials, bear footprints of different sizes were found in the area.
Anan Pinnoi, the director of Conservation Management Office 8, told the media that around 100 officials and forest rangers had been sent out to help in the search.
Drones were also being used to find them. Officials would use only tranquiliser guns, said Mr Pinnoi.
“The bears need to be captured alive in order to return them to nature. For the security of local villages, the operation team was instructed to set off firecrackers to scare the bears off to ensure they won’t return to attack anyone,” Mr Jangtrukul said.
Mr Pinnoi said the officials were divided into two groups, a smaller one to provide safety to villagers, and the other with professional veterinarians.
After the animals were captured, officers would determine if they were wild bears or illegally raised in captivity, he said.