Scout Leader Is Attacked by a Bear

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bear attacks Boy Scout leader in New Jersey reservoir, but scouts unharmed.

ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) – A Boy Scout leader who was pulled into a cave by a bear in northern New Jersey beat off the animal with a rock hammer while the three young Scouts with him called for help. Christopher Petronino, 50, and the scouts were hiking at Split Rock Reservoir Sunday afternoon when he stopped to show the boys a cave, N.J.com reported. The unidentified man was airlifted to Morristown Memorial Hospital with what authorities described as non-life threatening injuries, Rockaway police said in a statement. The group had set out to hike on the trails that cover the 625-acre wilderness, and they came along the cave, which Petronino told investigators he had known about since the 1980s.

Police were called to the scene around 12:26 p.m., when one of the scouts reported that the man had been attacked after entering a cave off one of the hiking trails surrounding the Splitrock Reservoir. The troop leader was sliding into a crevasse that forms the mouth of the cave when a black bear grabbed his foot and dragged him deeper inside, biting his leg and shoulders. Local officers and firefighters were joined by a state police helicopter to search the 625-acre area straddling the Rockaway-Kinnelon border, using signals from a scout’s cell phone to locate the group, according to police. Rockaway Mayor Michael Dachisen said the three scouts were not injured during the incident, and were taken to township police headquarters before being released to family members. As they waited, Petronino – still inside the cave and able to hear the bear “huffing” – instructed the children to place any food they had outside the cave, drawing the animal out, Considine said.

The bear has yet to be captured, though representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection will be setting traps in an attempt to locate it, the chief added. He saw no ear tags or collars on the animal, and the state – which recently extended an annual bear hunt to help control the species’ growing numbers in North Jersey – said they had no reason to consider it particularly dangerous. “Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers and the Wildlife Control Unit believe the bear was protecting its hibernation location and they do not, at this point, consider the bear to be a Category I bear,” said Considine. The attack comes amid lingering debate over how to handle the state’s bear population, spurred by the four-day extension of an annual hunt for the animals across North Jersey. DEP officials and other proponents argue that the steps are necessary to counter increased interactions between humans and the species — including the state’s first fatal bear attack in 150 years in 2014 – while animal rights and conservation activists contend that it is both inhumane and ineffective.

Sierra Club, said many people do not know how to back away from a bear slowly, which makes the bear think the people are prey. “The day after the hunt, there’s a bear-human incident, so it just shows that the whole purpose of the hunt was a failure — that it’s really [more] about having a trophy hunt than it is about managing bears,” Tittel said. “This encounter in all likelihood occurred because someone unwittingly entered a bear’s hibernation location,” Considine said in an email. “It had nothing to do with the bear hunt.

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