NJ student may have died in state’s first fatal bear attack in 150 years
Will this cause people who might otherwise consider going hiking for the first time to change their minds? Will this give black bears a bad rep not only in NJ but surrounding states as well? And what are your thoughts as far as the importance of educating people on the basics of hiking and the outdoors?
Weigh in with your thoughts. Our prayers go out to the family and friends.
Black Bear Facts
- Keen sense of smell (7 times more powerful than dogs); can detect odors over a mile away
- Goes without food for 6 to 7 months during hibernation in their northern range
- Very curious, resourceful, and intelligent
- Excellent memory and remembers food sources for many years
- Nervous, shy, easily frightened – can cause serious injury if startled, cornered, or provoked
- Usually prefers to avoid humans
- Opportunistic; will take advantage of readily available food
- Becomes bolder when hungry or habituated
- Very powerful and strong, thus should be treated with caution and respect
- Proficient at climbing, swimming, and running
- Often avoids open areas and prefers protective cover of trees and thickets
- Diet consists of approximately 85% vegetable matter including nuts, berries, seeds, grasses
- Stands up on hind legs NOT to attack but out of curiosity and to get a better look or smell
Bear Encounter Guidelines
- If a bear approaches you, stay calm.
- ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RUN (running may elicit a chase response in the bear).
- Pick up small children so they don’t run, scream or panic.
- Gather the group together and restrain your dog.
- Let the bear know you are human; talk in a soothing voice; lift arms overhead to look bigger.
- Slowly back away and avoid direct eye contact with the bear .
- If the bear lunges, snaps his jaws, slaps ground or brush with paw, he feels threatened -you are too close.
- The bear may also suddenly rush forward and stop as a “bluffing” tactic to intimidate you to leave; momentarily hold your ground, then keep backing away and talking softly.
- Don’t crowd the bear; leave him a clear escape route.
- Retreat from the area or make a very wide detour around the bear.
- If he continues to follow you, stand your ground and yell, clap your hands, wave your arms, or throw something toward him – repeat until he leaves.
- As a last resort – drop something like a hat to distract him but avoid tossing him food or your backpack as he will quickly learn to confront other humans for food rewards.