Home / National News / College Student Killed in Rare Bear Attack While Hiking in NJ


(WEST MILFORD, N.J.) — A 299-pound male black bear is suspected of killing a hiker in northern New Jersey on Sunday.

Searchers found the body of 22-year-old Darsh Patel a few hours after he and his friends encountered a bear and ran away, realizing later that Patel was missing.

Sheriff’s officers and wildlife officials killed the bear, located about 30 or 40 yards from the body.

Black bear attacks are rare, and Kelsey Burgess with New Jersey Fish & Wildlife guesses the attack may have been sparked by hunger.

“It could be a function of food,” Burgess said. “The animal is just hungry…we’re dealing with a mass shortage this year – typically when you see predatory behavior by black bears, it’s a result of a lack of food.”

Larry Rangonese with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection advises hikers confronted by a bear to not run away.

“You don’t want to run from a bear, you don’t want to look it in the eye to challenge it, so that the bear thinks it’s being challenged,” Rangonese said.

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