A Rutgers University student died after a viscous bear attack in New Jersey two months ago. Darsh Patel was hiking in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford with four other friends when he was mauled and killed by a large 300-pound black bear. It was Jersey’s first bear-related fatality in 150 years. Before his death, Patel managed to take a final pic of his killer, and the grisly images are now being released to the public, according to a Fox News report.
Members of Patel’s hiking group say they were ambling along the trail when they realized a bear was stalking them. They reacted by running away and splitting apart. During the chase, they lost contact with the mauling victim. Two hours later, police and forest rangers located Patel’s lifeless body. Nearby was a bear — presumably the one behind the fatal bear attack — that wouldn’t leave the victim. New Jersey officers shot and killed the animal to prevent it from carrying out further attacks.
Police in West Milford released six pictures that were taken just before the bear attacked the hikers. Five of them were from the victim’s own camera, which was gouged in the encounter. Officials wrote in a report that pics taken by the hikers likely agitated the bear and caused it to attack.
“They stopped and took photographs of the bear with their cellphones and the bear began walking towards them.”
Black bears are no strangers to the state. As the Inquisitr wrote in a previous report, neighbors were stunned to see an early morning brawl between two bears on a suburban street months ago. An amazing viral video captured the intense fight between the animals.
According to New Jersey state officials, the number of black bears is estimated to be nearly 3,000. The Department of Environmental Protection (or DEP) sponsored a six-day legal hunt in December last year, which happened to coincide with deer-hunting season. Activists came out in large numbers against the legal culling. Animal rights groups continue to push for non-lethal means to control the bear population in New Jersey. This alone may lessen the number of attacks.
Arguably, a large reason why bears and humans are clashing is due to encroachment. With suburban sprawl and increased infrastructure, bear habitats are decreased. As a consequence, the animals are forced to look beyond their normal hunting areas, which often brings them into contact with residential population.
It’s not uncommon to see bears combing through refuse in backyards and bolting into the woods at the sight of a human being. As experts say, these massive omnivores are typically shy and will often run away at the sight of a person.
“They’re all over the place,” said Jen Lizza, who was pushing her toddler on a stroller on Northwood Drive, near the preserve entrance, on Monday morning. “Usually they don’t bother people.”
However, a hungry, mating or mother bear is more likely to become aggressive. And it’s even more dangerous when people think black bears are like plush teddy bear toys and attempt to pet or feed them.
The New Jersey student killed in the bear attack was a senior enrolled at the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers majoring in information technology and informatics. University officials offered a statement of condolences and counseling services to students. Patel’s passing comes on the heels of 19-year-old Caitlyn Kovacs’s death Sunday morning following a fraternity party. Her death is under investigation.