The state of New Jersey has never had a fatal bear attack in the 150 years since officials started keeping records, but that changed in September when a 22-year-old hiker was brutally mauled by a black bear near West Milford. As it turns out, the college student and his friends actually photographed the bear shortly before being attacked, and those photos were released recently by the West Milford Police Department.

“The group began to take photographs of the bear with their cellphones and the bear began walking towards them,” read a report from Lt. Steven Sutton of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, who interviewed the surviving witnesses of the attack. “Once the bear approached within approximately 100 feet, the group began to back away.”

You can see a video of the images below, as well as a 911 call from one of the hikers:

The five hikers included students from Rutgers University, including senior undergraduate Darsh Patel. According to Sutton’s report, they had encountered a man and a woman in the area who warned them of a bear nearby. They eventually found the 300-pound black bear within a heavily forested section of the Apshawa Preserve and began taking pictures of it.

The witnesses described the bear as curious and interested, but did not describe it as overly violent or aggressive. That changed, however, when the animal caught up with them. Hoping to confuse the bear, the hikers decided to scatter in different directions. At some point, one of the witnesses said that Patel had dropped his shoe and was carrying it in his hand. The last time anyone saw him alive was when Patel tried climbing a rock formation. Witnesses said that the 22-year-old may have yelled for the group to continue without him.

Unfortunately for the college senior, that would be his last selfless act. The group found one another and went searching for Patel, eventually informing the authorities of the incident. Officers from the West Milford Police Department found the bear circling Patel’s body in a ravine and behaving aggressively. The bear was put down with two 12 gauge slugs from a shotgun and authorities were able to retrieve Patel’s remains. It was determined afterward that the bear had consumed parts of the hiker, and that the attack was predatory.

Shortly after the incident, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection sent out a warning that predatory bear attacks can occur without warning. In these cases, the bear considers the target as a source of food, unlike other attacks that occur when a person comes too close to a bear and it feels threatened. In those cases, a bear may signal its hostility with huffs or snapping of its jaws. Sometimes the bear will perform bluff charges. None of these signs may occur with a predatory attack.

Image screenshot of video by ChannelHD on YouTube

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33 thoughts on “Hiker Snapped Photos of the 300-pound Bear That Killed Him

      1. No, He had lost all respect for humans.
        They have been so overly protected that they have become too conditioned to humans, so they no longer act like wild animals.
        Up until late 80s or early 90s if they came into your yard and destroyed things people shot them. No more problem, and we had plenty of bear, but not near as many as today. Bears were wild animals and afraid of humans then.
        Too many people have moved from the city to the country and are so overwhelmed with seeing wildlife they will leave food out for animals so they will stay around until they eventually run out in front of an automobile and destroy someones new car. Or in the case of a bear sometimes get into the house.
        Wildlife Officers spend enormous amounts of time trapping fed bears out of Aspen, Telluride….. and turning them loose on the National Forest. Eventually the nearest rancher has a bear problem that he didn’t create. They over populate and have learned to live off of humans instead of the wild. Two things here in Colorado effect bear populations . Humans and starvation

      2. Sure, I get you….. I agree. They are losing the fear of man not because they are being domesticated but because nothing happens to them when our paths cross. So now, as in the article, they are starting to see people as food. Stupid, slow, and weak. Easy meal, which is how they hunt….. They try for easy prey like fawns, elk calves, and things that don’t know what to do, like this very stupid and unfortunate fellow who thought he was safe on a rock pile. Like bears won’t walk on rocks!?

      3. OK then if we follow your logic we should kill or cage every bear? Why stop there? Dogs have been known to attack and kill humans why not cage or kill them? They are also domesticated like the bear. The bottom line Joe is these guys were warned ahead of time there was a bear in the area they should have turned around and left with the two hikers that warned them. This wouldn’t be an issue today.

    1. Exactly why only the most worthless of fools relies on EVERYONE ELSE to take care of THEM. There should be a holiday to celebrate this retard dying as part of natures thinning of the herd process.

      1. Wrong! Concealed carriers didn’t perform those murders. But without concealed carriers that number could have easily been doubled and no, I don’t expect you to understand this fact.

    1. The general public is allowed to carry open or concealed on BLM land and National Parks/ Rivers, etc. superceding state and local laws. Handgun carrying demands at least a 10 mm, 41 mag, 44 mag or larger with high penetration ammo. 45acp is minimal.. Few persons are prepared mentally and technically for a predator running at them. When one is running AT YOU kneel down to keep your point of aim (instead of panning) and continue shooting until the threat stops. You only get one chance; that’s the time.

      1. Actually, bear spray is far more effective than bullets in bear encounters…studies show this. I’m not anti gun at all, and am a lifelong hunter and former guide in Alaska. I used a combo of a flare gun on gravel bars, an air horn, bear spray, and carried a back up…usually my stainless pistol grip 12 gauge, which I never had to use as my other non lethal methods worked each time. But Mr. Sluggo was right there in case I needed him!

    1. Also wrong! The vast majority of black bear attacks do not result in death or being consumed. It is far more likely to die taking a walk in Detroit!

      How many stories do you hear about the folks who carry commit any type of crime? However it was someone who legally carried a firearm that stopped a psycho terrorist who beheaded a woman at their workplace……

  1. They claim that if you will turn around and chase the bear it will run, but that sounds stupid to me. Like hurry up and eat me stupid. Anyway sorry for the young man losing his life.

    1. I chased a simliar bear while hiking, it was big, and it ran. I had a gun, but didnt need it. This bear was Def hunting, just like it hunts deer, these hikers should not have scattered, they should have stayed together close as one unit. Then chased it away by shouting aggressively, when in the wild, sometimes you need to be uncivil.By scattering, made it easy for the bear to decide who to go after.

  2. Black bear attacks are totally fatal–they only attack to kill and eat. If attacked you cannot play dead with a black bear–it will eat you right then and there. Unlike with other bears, you must fight or die.

    1. Jim & Donnie, most black bear attacks happen out of defense not predation. Humans are not typically looked at as food by black bears which is why this such a big story/anomaly. This is not normal bear behavior. Black bears typically attack to defend their cubs, defend their food, or out of surprise, in other words when they perceive a threat. When a bear is threatened it will bluff charge or pop it’s jaw as a warning and act distressed. Also, you never want to chase a bear or it will defend itself and you won’t win!! Always stay calm, back away slowly and stay together in a group and make yourself look bigger by holding arms out, etc. If it does attack, yes play dead! If u can get to ground lay on stomach to protect your vital organs with hands clasped on back of neck to protect your spine. It may injure you but u are more likely to live to tell about it. I live in the heart of bear country and see bears all the time. Be prepared and carry bear spray when in bear country.

      1. I believe you are wrong with regard to playing dead when attacked by a black bear !! Grizzly, yes , but not a black !
        I have interacted with bears for almost 50 years now , both black and grizz.

  3. The Bear was hungry…….is a Wild animal….humans were in his Turf. (A message to ALL HomoZapiens…DO NOT GO INTO THE WILDERNESS…empty handed. There should be at least one firearm in the group. )

    1. If a bear is stalking you with dinner in mind, the best defense is to stoop down, grab a handful of feces and throw it in his face. What if there are no feces? Don’t worry, there will be…

    1. Unfortunately, once a wild animal like a bear or a lion gets a taste of the old “two-legged mutton”, they gotta be put down, because they’ll keep coming back for more.

  4. They were warned by two hikers that a bear was in the area. That would be enough for anyone with common sense to turn around and leave the area. This all could have been avoided if they used better judgment.

  5. I live a few miles away from where it happened. The Bear was not rabid, but did feed on him. It was still with him 2 hrs later when found by the W.M. Police who shot him. No obvious injury or defect seen with the Bear that would make him prey on
    people rather than normal food available to him. The Bear density in West Milford and surrounding North Jersey is very high.
    We have a hunting season, but hunting areas are limited some localized bear populations are unaffected by the hunts. Sows with 3-4 cubs per litter with very high survival rates are the norm. Sows with 5 cubs are not rare.

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