I've been to eastern Hokkaido visiting Kushiro city, Lake Mashu and Lake Akan and others. When I visited an observatory building by Kushiro Marsh, there was a boardwalk behind it. At the entrance, I found usual signs in Hokkaido.
This sign board says, "A bear was found about 15:00 o'clock on July 26th on the boardwalk. Later the bear was searched but have not been found yet. So be careful. "
This says, "Be aware of brown bears!! Report of sightings: Around 16:00, October 25, 2013...." Then, the place of sighting follows and it cautions that the area is a habitat of brown bears. So you need to be aware of them and you should take something to sound. You can borrow bear repelling bells for free on the first floor of the observatory building. One bell for a group.
I thought at the marsh, there isn't so much place for bears to hide and it isn't so dangerous as hiking in mountain area in southwest of Hokkaido. But I was wrong. Most places in Hokkaido, we have to be aware of danger of encountering wild brown bears.
Akiko lives in a city next to Hakodate and loves to drive around Hakodate and surrounding area. I hope people who visit or live in the Southwest area of Hokkaido come to love the area, too. 函館の隣町在住で道南エリアのドライブ大好きAkikoです。道南を訪れたり、住んでいる人が土地を好きになってくれたらなぁ、と思います。