Darsh Patel was hitchhiking with friends.
By The American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: Darsh Patel, 22, a senior information technology and informatics major at Rutgers University in New Jersey was attacked and killed by a black bear when he out hitchhiking with friends in West Milford.
Officials said the approximately 300-pound bear was scouting for food when he came upon Patel and four of his friends, who fled in different directions, at the 526-acre Apshawa Preserve, about 45 miles northwest of New York City, on Sunday, reported the Associated Press.
Later, when Patel was not to be found, his friends lodged a complaint with the police. The bear was found circling around Patelâ€™s body and was shot dead. State and local officials stressed that bear attacks are rare even in a region of the state that may have as many as 2,400 bruins in its dense forests. DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said the attack was the first fatal bear-human encounter on record in New Jersey.
The Daily Mail reported that locals in northern New Jersey believe they filmed a black bear hunting for food hours before Patel was mauled to death in nearby woods at the weekend.
Two men splitting wood on Saturday captured a video of a bear going through garbage just a few feet from where they were working, before scampering off into the woods, according to CNN.
‘This is a rare occurrence,’ West Milford police Chief Timothy Storbeck said, noting that his department receives six to 12 calls per week regarding bears, usually involving them breaking into trash cans.
Wildlife officials believe there is a current shortage of the acorns and berries that bears eat. The hikers had granola bars and water with them, Storbeck said.
Officials don’t believe the hikers provoked the bear but they may have showed their inexperience when they decided to run. The safest way to handle a bear encounter is to move slowly and not look the bear in the eye, DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said, reported the Mail.