Bears Euthanized Following Encounter with Connecticut Hiker

   09.04.15

A young black bear that nibbled the leg of a Connecticut hiker last week was shot dead by wildlife officials on Wednesday, drawing criticism from some who believed the hiker intentionally approached the bears to film them.

Stephanie Rivkin posted videos of the bear encounter on her Facebook page, including a video of one bear displaying signs of agitation and coming close enough to nuzzle her leg.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection stated that the bear, which had been previously tagged, had a history of negative interactions with humans and was euthanized this week.

“This male bear had a history of aggressive behavior toward humans,” the department stated in a press release. “It was captured, tranquilized and relocated from the perimeter fence at Bradley International Airport in June of this year.  Later that month, it attempted to follow a woman into a building in Windsor. In July, it was suspected of entering a home in Granby.”

The first video of Rivkin’s bear encounter:

This is something I’ll never forget. Please god let me get back to my car

Posted by Stephanie Rivkin on Friday, August 28, 2015

 

Conservation officers also killed another black bear while hunting for the one that Rivkin encountered, although it is unknown if it was the second bear seen in the video the hiker took last Friday. Shortly after the encounter, Rivkin told reporters that she had been terrified and was unsure if she would be able to leave unharmed.

In this video one of the bears nibbles on the hiker’s leg:

Walking with bears. It put it’s mouth on my leg. OK ok I almost got bit. Scary

Posted by Stephanie Rivkin on Friday, August 28, 2015

 

“There weren’t a whole lot of things going through my head other than keep filming and if I die they’ll have a video and know what happened to you,” she told WTIC.

Critics say that from her demeanor Rivkin did not appear to be afraid at all. They accused her of coaxing the bears to come closer for the video. At one point, the hiker repeatedly told the bears, “Don’t be scared.”

Rivkin refuted these claims and said that since the incident was reported, she has been flooded with death threats.

“For all of the people who don’t know the whole story yet are posting ridiculous comments about me I will post the rest of the videos so you can see for yourself that I did nothing to antagonize or even approach the bears,” I also had no bad intentions when I reported the bears. And stated very clearly that I did not want any harm to come to the bears. That part is beyond my control.”

Rivkin publicly advocated for wildlife officials to spare the bear, as did many others, but officials said that the animal was too aggressive and already too familiar with humans.

“At one point the bear actually starts popping it’s [sic] jaws. That’s actually a sign of aggression in bears,” said state wildlife biologist Jason Hawley. “You put the whole story together so all these behaviors together and it’s pretty disturbing behavior and it’s definitely a bear that needs to be removed from the population.”

Officials added that the trail Rivkin was hiking on is now seeing unusually high bear activity. It has been closed since Friday.

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