By BRUCE A. SCRUTON
WEST MILFORD -- A hiker in Ringwood State
Park was attacked and injured by a black bear that may have been startled, but also apparently has charged at least two other
hikers previously this year.
The unidentified man was not seriously injured,
but his unleashed dog was apparently bitten and clawed by the 200- to 300-pound female bear. The dog is expected to recover
and is being treated at a local veterinary hospital.
Pat Carr, the senior biologist with the
state Division of Fish and Wildlife who oversees the black bear unit, said the incident occurred along a trail in what is
known as "jungle habitat," an area of the park that was once a safari park.
"The man was walking his dog along the trail
and entered an area where there is brush," Carr said. "The bear was in a patch of that brush, apparently eating berries, and
The animal knocked the man to the ground
and the man kicked back at the bear. It was either that action, or actions of the dog, that caused the bear to get off the
man and attack the dog before running off.
The man sustained scrapes, scratches and
bruises in his encounter with the bear, but there were no injuries caused by the bear's teeth or claws.
Carr said there have been at least two other
incidents involving the same bear this year in that same area. While the bear charged in both incidents, apparently neither
of the hikers was injured.
But the fact the bear charged, and has no
apparent fear of humans, qualifies it as a Category 1 bear and subject to be euthanized under the state's policy of how nuisance
bears and handled.
Carr said traps have been set in the area
and state park police are patrolling along with wildlife technicians.
"If they see the bear free ranging, she
will be euthanized at the scene," Carr said. If the bear is trapped, it will be transported out of the area.
He said it will be possible to positively
identify the bear. The bear gave birth to the cubs in January and they probably weigh between 12 and 20 pounds each. The cubs
are likely to survive on their own given that there are no natural predators.
As to the issue of confrontations between
hikers and bears, Carr said, "We have people hiking in the woods all the time, but we don't have this sort of escalation on
the bear's part."
He said despite the rarity of bear-human
conflicts, people walking in the woods should take some common sense precautions, including making noise, such as singing
or talking, or wearing "bear bells."
"Make yourself visible and hearable and
you shouldn't have problems," he said.
park is open, he said, the trail in question is closed until the area is deemed safe.