An Asian black bear with a video camera attached to its neck climbs a tree in western Tokyo. (Video footage provided by Shinsuke Koike, associate professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology)

With a bit of luck, researchers managed to observe the life of an Asian black bear in the wild without the risk of being mauled to death.

The team, led by Shinsuke Koike, an associate professor of forest biology conservation at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, attached a video camera to the neck of a black bear and had it provide a “bear’s eye view” in the mountains of western Tokyo for about a month.

Observations until now have been conducted through indirect methods, such as collecting feces or following a bear’s footprints.

The research team in June 2014 attached the camera to an anesthetized male black bear weighing about 85 kilograms that was captured in the Okutama region in western Tokyo. It was then returned to the mountains.

The video footage from the camera showed the black bear, known as loners that live deep in the mountains, was much more active than initially thought. The bear climbed trees, used its claws to dig into rotting trees to find termites to eat, and slept while hiding in underbrush.

In one scene, the animal was bathing in a river. In another, the bear walked along a mountain trail made by hikers. There is even a scene of the bear looking at a human residence in the distance.

Using this “biologging” method to closely record the animal’s behavior, the researchers hope to devise ways to preserve the environment so that black bears do not come into contact with humans or attack them.

“If we can properly understand the bear’s behavior through the video data, we could take measures, such as not approaching areas where they live during periods when they are active,” Koike said.

The camera was programmed to shoot video footage for five minutes every hour. It was also designed to automatically fall from the bear’s neck after about a month.

A global positioning system function on the camera should have allowed the researchers to recover the camera after the month was up. However, that plan failed.

The team was only able to recover the camera after it was accidentally found in the mountains in 2016.

The research team will expand its recording process to seven or eight bears starting next year. One mystery the team will try to solve is how bears find mates while in the mountains.