Depending on where you hunt, black bears can range from being a nuisance to a serious danger. Dover, New Jersey police officer Walter Michalski never expected that he would end up stepping on one. The off-duty policeman was hunting for deer in Allamuch State Park on Tuesday when he stepped over a log and right onto a black bear sow with four cubs.

“It was not a bear attack,” Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Larry Ragonese told the Daily Record. “It was an unfortunate confluence of events for both the hunter and the bear.”

Ragonese added that the bear family was tucked away in an alcove under the fallen tree and could not be seen. Naturally, the bear reacted poorly to Michalski’s intrusion and began biting the hunter in the foot. In a report later filed with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Michalski claimed that he was unable to remove himself from the tree and fired two shots from his hunting rifle at the bear. The seriously injured sow then rolled over two of her cubs, crushing them, before fleeing and eventually being dispatched by Fish and Wildlife personnel. Wildlife officers were able to retrieve the two surviving cubs and transport them to a local wildlife refuge.

Michalski reportedly suffered several puncture marks on his ankle, but no other serious injuries.

Due to the nature of the incident, investigators did not rule the encounter a bear attack, and no charges were filed against Michalski.

Last year New Jersey recorded its first fatal bear attack when a 22-year-old hiker was attacked and killed by a large black bear. Unlike the majority of bear conflicts, investigators believe that attack was a predatory one.

Despite lower bear numbers, bear encounters have been rising in New Jersey. In 2014, wildlife officials witnessed a nearly 55 percent increase in “Category 1” bears, or bears that are considered a threat to public safety and property. The bears also appear to be moving closer to urban areas, resulting in 79 automobile accidents last year.

Image courtesy Mike Bender/US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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6 thoughts on “Off-duty Cop Steps on Bear While Hunting, Gets Bitten in Foot

  1. Or you could write it from a different angle: “Depending on where you hunker down for the winter, the white man with the fire stick can range from being a nuisance to a serious danger. A black bear never expected that she would end up being stepped on by one, which resulted in her senseless death and the death of two of her cubs after she was shot and gravely wounded, rolling over two of her sleeping bairn.
    “A careless off-duty policeman was hunting for deer in Allamuchy State Park on Tuesday when he stepped over a log and right onto the black bear sow with four cubs. Understandably dumbfounded, the bear did what any mother would do, defend her children. She bit the man’s foot, which, unfortunately, was the kiss of death for her facing a man with a gun. The man claimed that he was unable to remove himself from the tree and fired two shots from his hunting rifle at the bear. The seriously injured sow then rolled over two of her cubs, crushing them, before fleeing and eventually being dispatched by Fish and Wildlife personnel.
    “The man suffered several puncture marks on his ankle, but no other serious injuries, except, if there is any justice in the world, to his soul.”

    1. Really what a poopy man! As a police officer he should have known there was a bear sleeping in that log. At least he should have been ready for such an encounter. Since it had such a big family too. Who doesn’t know that a bear could be sleeping right where you want to walk. The man should have been the one to flee not the bear! Well, after it was done with his foot and ankle anyways. The man should have let the bear have his foot, doesn’t he realize how long it was since the bear ate? He should have been grateful the bear only bit his foot and not his face and neck. The bear had the decency not to kill the man he could have at least been as considerate as the bear. I don’t know about you but that poopy guy is not my friend!

      1. My issue is with the quality of the writing of the article, particularly the opening line. The story is a sad one all the way around. At least the writer acknowledges that. But it’s a lot sadder for the bear. The writer’s opening line gives the game away on how we are supposed to feel about it. And I DON’T feel that way .

  2. This is unreal..lol! The bear reacted poorly? I guess the bear should have said, “Good day sir, whilst pursuing your hunt, you have startled my family and I. Please be on your way”.

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