New Jersey Student Takes Picture Of Black Bear Before Being Mauled To Death in First New Jersey Black Bear Fatality

hiker-3As many readers of this blog know, I love to hike and bring back pictures from the various trails of wildlife so this story was particularly chilling for me. Darsh Patel was hiking with his four friends when they spotted a black bear in New Jersey and stopped to take pictures. Patel continued to take five pictures with his cellphone as the 300-pound bear charged and killed him.

I have seen dozens of black bears while backpacking and hiking, particularly in Virginia and Michigan. Attacks are incredibly rare. I often see black bears on the Old Rag hike or other locations in the Shenandoah. I black bears come through camp sites at night in past years without incident.

In this case, the hikers are in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford in September and decided to split up when the male bear got closer. The bear selected Patel and mauled him — even gouging his cellphone.

The bear was later shot by a police officer and was found to have digested human flesh. It was a four year old male bear.

Paresh a senior at Rutgers University’s School of Arts and Sciences, majoring in information technology and informatics.

Kovacs-Patel copy.jpgPolice said that Patel, 22, was the first person to be killed by a bear in New Jersey. That is a rather surprising statistic for a state like New Jersey with ample forested areas, even considering the low likelihood of such attacks. Black bears have killed 61 people in North America since 1900. As one bear site host remarked,”My chances of being killed by a domestic dog, bees, or lightning are vastly greater. My chances of being murdered are 60,000 times greater. One of the safest places a person can be is in the woods.”


Source: NY Post

77 thoughts on “New Jersey Student Takes Picture Of Black Bear Before Being Mauled To Death in First New Jersey Black Bear Fatality”

    1. trooperyork – as I remember, his life on the show was sexless, so I can see his acting out in this fashion. I am surprised about the Coca-Cola bear, since they really protect their trademark. I would expect them to keep their bear on a short leash.

      This picture reminds me more of mess of bodies on the bed from the ’60s than a daisy chain. I think someone could be reading too much into it. You know how writers are, sex sells books.


    It had all fallen apart for Yogi after they canceled his TV show. Meaningless sexual encounter after meaningless sexual encounter with both sexes became his normal practice. He didn’t care anymore. He was thrown out of national park after national park as he would have sex out in the open and scare the tourists. He was just after sensation. He just wanted to feel something. Anything. But his life was empty. He had hit rock bottom.
    (Joseph Barbera. Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear The E True Hollywood Story of Yogi Bear)

    1. trooperyork – I had heard that Yogi Bear had gone into rehab but I didn’t follow the story too closely. Thanks for the update. Some just can’t handle the fame and fortune and I guess Yogi was one of them. I had heard gossip that H-B had pushed him too hard at a young age to be in a show and he really was never given an education.

  2. Clarification: When I said it is not our place, I meant that it is a place where we don’t get to set the rules…the animals do.

  3. Haz …here is another clip from that very poorly produced and advised video of Sarah Palin. Lord knows what her advisors and producers were thinking (they invented a lot of fiction)…Dad loading her rifle(s) and then Sarah running to the down caribou holding her rifle (not the one she shot with) upside down to dispatch the animal if not dead. Another fallacy in that video was the description of the remote landing strip where on a single passenger could be landed at a time … never mind that it was a paved runway left over from the days of the original DoD DEW Line capable of landing C-47’s (DC-3’s) and larger aircraft. I had difficulty thinking much of her until it dawned on me she was being “handled” by idiots and amateurs.

  4. Iconoclast…just my opinion, but I believe black bears attack mostly when surprised suddenly and at fairly close range. Bears do not deal with “surprise” very well. As you say, with knowledge afore-hand they seem fairly averse to attacking humans, but when hungry can be lethal predators to other four legged critters and their young. They tend to mind their own business, and not make much noise, which makes it easy to surprise them suddenly…in the wild I pay close attention to “markers’ like scat, tree scrubs, and prevalence of their favorite foods like berries in season. Griz on the other hand makes a fair amount of noise and usually warns from a distance…but have that mind-set where they just lose it and go after anything they think is too close…which is very difficult to predict. With cubs either type can be dangerous to humans and it is fairly easy to get too close to a black sow and her cubs inadvertently. In the Yellowstone area Grizzlies kill a couple of people in a year at times, sometimes just because that person was on their normal pathway. Even a White tail deer buck can get ugly if you are standing in one of their normal runways and they want to hurry down it.

    Being in a wilderness area requires you pay close attention to details of all kinds…it is definitely not a time to just stroll along in idle thought. Humans are prone to take the “easiest pathway”…e.g, the one worn down by use…and that just may be a bear or a moose using it. Checking your back trail periodically is a good idea in cougar country…they seem to follow humans at times and if they are you will find pug marks on your pathway…a place they sometimes stalk for other edibles that use the same path. When I hike in the Mill Creek gorge near Pray (there are two Mill Creek drainages in Montana), Montana, north of Yellowstone, it is rugged terrain of steeps and narrow valleys, and cougar country…I seldom see one, or even sign, but I am confident many more have seen me and fortunately found me uninteresting. Wolves are there too but you rarely see them close if at all, and Griz is there but makes a bunch of noise, and if you hear grunting, woofing and stomping of the ground, leave the way you came, slowly but diligently. There is a cattle ranch in the beginning of the gorge and their outriders who tend the herd always go in pairs, one with a rifle handy and one to track the cattle…and anything else that is around dangerous to cattle. The wilderness is a lovely place, but it is not our place…and boundaries matter.

  5. Sad story. It would be interesting to hear from biologists about what causes a black bear to attack since they are mostly pretty averse to attacking.

  6. Aridog – the problem with pepper spray is I can’t be anywhere near it. I have asthma and it would be certain death if I got a whiff. That’s why I’m so sympathetic to bystanders who get hit with pepper spray during crowd dispersal.

  7. A .44 mag is about the only handgun that can slow or stop a bear, but it is a heavy gun to carry, and many people cannot shoot it without breaking a wrist.

    I was watching a Sarah Palin into the outdoors show a couple of years ago in the episode where Sarah, her husband, brother, and father were preparing to go on their annual caribou hunt. They were siting in their rifles on a range, and also brought along the 12 ga shotguns that each one carried for bear protection. The shotguns were loaded with a series of increasing lethal rounds: noise only, beanbag, shot, and slug.

    The range practice was to point the shotgun at an imaginary charging bear and pule the trigger in rapid succession until the bear retreats or ceases moving. they showed them shooting. It was bang bang bang bang in rapid succession. It wasn’t bang – ohh did he stop? No? bang again.

    I found a tinkered-with clip of that episode.

  8. Same topic. There is a 290 pound Brown bear dead in Ferguson and he ought to be. The Governor needs to be sued for damages for the looting and riots caused by his clamour for the Grand Jury to Indict Wilson. Nixon was conspiring with AL Sharpton and the looters to cause riots, looting and arson. When dead Brown’s mommy sues Darrel Wilson he should counter sue under 42 U.S.C. Section 1985 for conspiracy to deprive Wilson of his right to a fair hearing by a Grand Jury. That action is set forth in Section 1985. The Co Conspirator and State Actor (which gets Darrel Wilson a civil rights counterclaim) is Governor Nixon. The other co conspirator is Big AL Boko Harum Sharptongue. New parties who have been looted and burned out may join the suit. It is time for Darren Wilson to have his lawyers do their research.

  9. BTW..the purpose of pepper spray, used properly, is to distract and re-focus the animal, not stop it per se…just like Cesar Milan teaches on his television show….distraction reduces the aggression of the moment.

  10. Jason…vis a vis Grizzley (and even a black bear) has a critical disabling target of the size of a silver dollar (the brain stem) when charing toward you, head extended, Any shot less than that, even if lethal, would give a bear 20 or so seconds of remaining mobility to reach and hurt you, while virtually dead on its feet…only a brain stem shot drops a bear in its tracks. I know almost no one who could do that…especially under the pressure of a charge.

    When I am in wilderness areas, I prefer pepper spray of 10% or 15 % power from a large canister…bullets that just hit a bear from the front, especially a Grizzly, only anger the bear more than anything else. If I am armed with a powerful pistol, I wouldn’t use it except for noise making hoping to scare an angry bear away…and at a distance of 25 yards or less, at a running bear straight at you, that’s pretty much ineffective.

  11. Jason – And I’ll bet I’d have a lot of trouble holding steady while firing at a charging black bear. That would be my biggest problem, because if you don’t hit the right spot you just really piss him off, and they’re so fast. Well, no, my biggest problem would be becoming bear poop, but it would definitely be my second biggest problem.

  12. Jason:

    I think the cue that he missed was that the bear was approaching him. That is a really bad sign. Considering how fast a bear can run, the pictures don’t look very far away, given that the bear was not showing ignoring behavior.

  13. DBQ – I had my own run-in with a mountain lion years ago. I quite accidentally got within a few feet of it. It had zero fear of me at all, was quite irritated, actually, unlike the hundreds of coyotes I’ve seen up close over the years. Every morning there were fresh tracks around the house.

    One recently killed a horse in my area. It’s exciting to see one but they are so dangerous!

    Aridog – Shadow sounds like a lovely dog. I named my dog Shadow because he follows me everywhere. If I put him outside and don’t go out with him, he stares at me through the window until I let him back in. When I’m cleaning/polishing the floors, that means I have soulful, mourning eyes on me for hours.

    What strikes me is that many people are completely unprepared for wildlife encounters when they go on a hike. They don’t know that you should have some means of protection when hiking in bear country, or that it is bad when a bear approaches you. I’ve heard of people standing there taking pictures, well within a bison bull’s discomfort zone, with his tail raised in the classic broadcast of “if you don’t move I’m so going to cream you”.

    Heck, I’ve even had strangers drive onto private property where I boarded a gelding, walk all the way back to the barn, and put their toddler on a mare’s back, stall door wide open and no halter on, without bothering to ask anyone for permission. Thank God it wasn’t the uber-mare Appy in the next stall who was the worst kicker and biter ever. The mare’s owner was so pissed. But they got offended when I told them to leave. If that mare had bolted out the open stall door, injuring their child, I’m sure they would have had no hesitation in suing, in lawsuit happy CA.

    I grieve for this young man, who clearly had no idea the danger he was in at first, without so much as a pocket knife to protect himself. He must have been so scared and in so much pain. There seems to be such a disconnect nowadays between people and nature. They don’t know how our food is raised, or how to stay as safe as possible on a trail.

    1. Karen – South Mountain Park has at least one pair of mountain lions and maybe more. Periodically they come into the city of Phoenix, usually one at a time to hunt. They are very good at getting back to the park before the cops capture them 🙂

  14. Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter
    “Oh, I know this is morbid, but why didn’t he just stop taking pictures and haul buns out of there?”

    He did. The pictures were taken from a decent distance. When it got closer, the whole group ran. Apparently the bear was showing stalking behavior and wasn’t bluffing.

    Paul C. Schulte
    “RWL – you have any idea of what kind of fire power it takes to take down a bear?”

    Grizzlies require considerable power. 300 lb black bears require a lot less. Shot placement is the most important issue regardless. The grizzly that killed Timothy Treadwell was killed with twelve gauge slugs and .40 handguns, but it took a lot of hits.

    1. Jason – now transfer this amount of firepower to the Ferguson shooting and people will see why it took so many shots.

  15. Sandi,
    That makes me think of the simple rule that when with another person, you don’t have to be faster than the bear; just the other person. 😉

  16. I’ve been told if you see a bear near you, don’t move. Others with him moved, but the bear went for the person standing still. What am I to do?

Comments are closed.