We all know people who have done this – many of us have probably done this ourselves; but in New Jersey this fall, one series of social media snap shots proved fatal to more than just a hiker’s reputation.
New Jersey hiker, Darsh Patel – a Rutgers college student – was mauled to death by a 300-pound black bear this September while taking pictures of the animal with his cellphone.
The student, 22-year-old Patel, was hiking with four friends in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford New Jersey at the time of attack. West Milford police released six photos this week taken by Patel moments before he was killed. The police report indicated that the bear may have been attracted to the group of hikers by Patel taking photos with his cellphone. The group split up when the bear started following them, leaving Patel alone with the wild animal.
The phone was found near the site of the fatal attack with bite marks on it and shows the bear coming closer to Patel as he took pictures.
Patel is the first person known to be killed by a bear in New Jersey. The bear was later found and killed by state wildlife officials.
The black bear population in the United States is estimated to be between 286,600 and 328,000 according to the American Bear Association. According to the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife, there are between 25,000 and 30,000 black bears in Washington.
The bottom line is, give bears (and all wildlife) their space – no one likes a camera stuck in their face, and, in the case of a wild bear, this fact could lead to fatalities.
For more information about what to do when bears attack, check out http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/bears.html#attacks