Police say four people appeared to have been killed by a bear or bears in a small area of northern Japan in three weeks.

Kazuno Police Station spokesman Noboru Abukawa said the remains of all four victims had bites and scratches on their bodies presumably made by "a large animal."

The three men and one woman, from age 65 to 79, were killed in a mountainous area within a 2.5-kilometer (1.6-mile) radius in Akita prefecture since May 20.

Abukawa said the city of Kazuno had had no deaths from bear attacks in the last five years.