Rutgers Student Killed By 300-Pound Black Bear

A Rutgers University senior who went on a hiking trip with four friends in New Jersey was reportedly attacked and killed by a black bear in an incident that officials say is the first of its kind to happen in more than 150 years.

Darsh Patel, 22, was found dead in the Apshawa Preserve on Sunday after police say he and his friends noticed the bear approaching them and ran off in different directions to get away from him. Two hours after they split up, Patel's friends contacted police because they couldn't find him. Authorities were shocked to discover that, despite how they tried to scare the 300-pound animal away by throwing sticks and stones at him and making loud noises, he refused to leave the scene and continued to walk around in a circle about 30 yards away from the student's body.


Police shot the bear with rifles and killed him. After examining the animal, who they believed was hungry, they determined he had probably never had any interaction with people prior to this incident. This horrible attack marked the second time in New Jersey history that a bear killed a person -- the first was in 1852.

Although they say the students didn't provoke the bear, running from him likely caused more harm than good, officials say. Apparently, the best way to handle a bear is to walk slowly and not look him in the eye -- but I can't imagine how difficult that would be to do when you're actually in a situation in which you come face to face with a frightening and deadly predator. An autopsy report will determine whether the bear had a disease that caused it to attack the man.

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A spokesman for the State Department of Environmental Protection says the black bear population has "grown out of control" recently, particularly in northern New Jersey. The state called for a black bear hunting season in 2009, which has been successful in lowering the population, but numerous bear attacks have still been reported in the area.

This is, of course, a horrific and sad incident and a young man with his entire life ahead of him should not have suffered this fate. Our hearts go out to Patel's family.

What precautions do you take before you go hiking or engage in outdoor activities?


Image via Casey Brown/Flickr

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