According to AFP, a 22-year-old hiker walking with friends in the woods just an hour's drive from New York City has been killed by a bear, police said Monday (September 22).
The victim, Darsh Patel, was one of five hikers who encountered a black bear on Sunday (September 21), which then began to follow them in the Apshawa Preserve near the township of West Milford, NJ.
Police said the hikers became frightened and attempted to flee the area, around 65 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of New York.
"During the confusion, the group became separated as they ran in different directions," police said in a statement.
Four of the hikers regrouped and contacted police after failing to find their missing friend. A search and rescue team found Patel's body around two hours later, just before 1800 hours.
COMMENT: For those encountering black bears in the wild should take the following action:
"Evidence at the scene indicated that the victim had been attacked by a bear. A bear was located at the scene and immediately euthanized," said police.
The Apshawa Preserve, consisting of around 576 acres of diverse habitat and beautiful vistas in northern New Jersey, is popular with hikers, bikers, horse riders and bird-watchers.
A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection told AFP it was the first fatal bear attack in New Jersey since 1852.
There are around 1,800 to 2,400 black bears in northwestern New Jersey, but they are present in all 21 counties of the state.