The New Jersey Fish & Wildlife Department issued a warning after reports came in of a bear attack in Lafayette that left one woman temporarily hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. According to a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), around 4:30 p.m. on May 11, a 34-year-old Lafayette woman was attacked while walking to the end of a farm lane to check her mail.
She reportedly observed two or three bears and was involved in a physical encounter with one of them. A neighbor used his car’s horn to scare the bears off, the DEP spokesperson said.
The bear involved in the attack was estimated to be a 150- to 200-pound yearling.
“New Jersey Fish & Wildlife staff are investigating the incident and have set a trap in the area. The bear is considered a Category I bear; if caught and confirmed, the bear will be euthanized per New Jersey Fish & Wildlife policy.”
The victim was treated for wounds to her arm and butt and was released from the hospital.
The DEP issued the following guidelines people can take to reduce their risk of encounters with black bears:
• Never feed or approach a bear.
• Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Do not run from it.
• Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
• Make sure the bear has an escape route.
• If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open.
• Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge. Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away.
• To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an airhorn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.
• The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws and swat the ground. These are warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run.
• If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior.
• Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.
• If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area.
The DEP asks that residents report black bear damage or nuisance behavior via its 24-hour, toll-free hotline: 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).
The DEP also noted that families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a “bear plan” in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns.
“Use certified bear-resistant garbage containers and keep the container outdoors if you live in an area frequented by black bears. Certified bear-resistant trash containers have passed a formal testing procedure and are proven to keep bears out. Certified containers offer the best protection.”
Visit the DEP website for more information on ways to avoid dangerous bear encounters.