A black bear attack in New Jersey photos surface from the Rutgers University student’s phone of a 300-pound animal he took last summer.
The bear mauled 22-year-old Darsh Patel, a senior majoring in information technology and informatics, in September, according to FOX News. But now new photos have surfaced just before he was killed in a heavily wooded area known as the Apshawa Preserve. West Milford Township Police Chief Timothy Storbeck said the group encountered the bear and ran in different directions.
“The group of five hikers encountered a black bear in the woods that began to follow them, they became frightened and attempted to flee the area … During the confusion, the group became separated as they ran in different directions.”
Storbecks said that evidence at the scene indicated that the attack in New Jersey was from the 300-pound animal. Four of the young men later found one another and contacted police. Patel’s body was later discovered in the woods, with the bear still about 30 to 40 yards away.
This black bear attack in New Jersey is quite rare. Black bears, which are common in New Jersey, have been seen in all of the state’s 21 counties. But encounters with human as well as attacks are unusual, said Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“It’s an unfortunate and tragic accident … It’s a rare situation.”
The 4-year-old male bear, which wasn’t tagged, was being examined to determine why it went after the hikers. Hajna advised people who encounter bears to remain calm and do not run, and to make sure the bear has an escape route. Avoid direct eye contact, back up slowly and speak with a low but assertive voice.
The chancellor of Rutgers-New Brunswick, Richard Edwards, in a statement expressed his sympathy for the family of Patel.
“I deeply regret to report that we learned this morning of the passing of another Rutgers student, Darsh Patel … As we grieve over his tragic passing, please know that our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones and to all his friends and fellow students at Rutgers.”
The black bear attack in New Jersey occurred after Patel took the picture, according to The Inquisitr. Photographs show a black 300-pound animal making its way towards a group of walkers at Apshawa Preserve on September 21. According to investigatory records, the phone was later recovered with a puncture mark from the bear’s teeth.
When the bear kept approaching the hikers fled, eventually splitting up. Patel lost his shoe and was last seen climbing a rock formation, pursued by the animal. He told his friends to continue out of the woods, where they phoned police - who eventually shot and killed the bear.
Patel’s body was found around two hours later. An autopsy showed he was mauled by the bear, and human remains were found in its stomach and under its claws. It was the first time a human had been killed by an animal like this in the state.
The black bear attack in New Jersey is one of only 60 fatal attacks in North America over the last century. The animal is the continent’s smallest and most widely distributed bear species. They are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location.
They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The black bear is the world’s most common bear species.
It is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern, due to the species’ widespread distribution and a large global population estimated to be twice that of all other bear species combined. Along with the brown bear, it is one of only two of the eight modern bear species not considered globally threatened with extinction by the IUCN.
Morris Michtom, the creator of the teddy bear, was inspired to make the toy when he came across a cartoon of Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a black bear cub trapped up a tree. Winnie the Pooh was named after Winnipeg, a female black bear cub that lived at London Zoo from 1915 until her death in 1934. A black bear cub who in the spring of 1950 was caught in the Capitan Gap fire was made into the living representative of Smokey Bear, the mascot of the United States Forest Service.
While the black bear attack in New Jersey is rare, especially in the Apshawa Preserve, the animal typically avoids confronting humans when possible. Unlike grizzly bears, which became a subject of fearsome legend among the European settlers of North America, black bears were rarely considered overly dangerous, even though they lived in areas where the pioneers had settled. Black bears rarely attack when confronted by humans, and usually limit themselves to making mock charges, emitting blowing noises and swatting the ground with their forepaws.
However, according to Stephen Herrero in his “Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance,” 23 people were killed by black bears from 1900 to 1980. The number of animal attacks on humans is higher than those of the brown bear in North America, though this is largely because the black species considerably outnumbers the brown rather than greater aggressiveness. Compared to brown bear attacks, aggressive encounters with these animals rarely lead to serious injury.
However, the majority of attacks tend to be motivated by hunger rather than territoriality, and thus victims have a higher probability of surviving by fighting back rather than submitting. Unlike grizzlies, female black bears do not display the same level of protectiveness to their cubs, and seldom attack humans in their vicinity. But, occasionally, attacks by protective mothers do occur.
The recent black bear attack in New Jersey is quite serious, notes CBS News. But the worst recorded fatality incident occurred in May 1978, in which a black bear killed three teenagers who were fishing in Algonquin Park in Canada. Another exceptional, spree-like attack occurred in August 1997 in Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park in Canada, when an emaciated black bear attacked a child and mother, killing the mother as well as an adult man who tried to intervene.