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Bear attacks woman heading to check her mail in New Jersey

Nature: Black bears
Nature: Black bears 03:12

Authorities say a woman was taken to a hospital after she was attacked by a black bear as she walked down a New Jersey road to check her mail.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said the attack happened at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on a farm lane in Lafayette Township. Officials said the 34-year-old woman saw two to three bears and was "involved in a physical encounter with one of them."

A neighbor used a car horn to scare the animals off. The woman was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries to her arm and buttock and was later released.

State officials said the bear involved was reported to be one or two years old and 150 to 200 pounds. New Jersey Fish & Wildlife was investigating the incident had set a trap in the area. If the bear is caught and confirmed to be the animal involved in the attack, it will be euthanized, officials said.

CBS New York reported that residents say the bear population has increased since the state ended the annual bear hunt.

In 2020, state biologists estimated a bear population of 3,158 bears north of Interstate 78 and west of Interstate 287 — a major increase from the 2019 estimated population for this same region of 2,208, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Bears mauled and killed two dogs earlier this year in Sussex County, but the latest attack is the first involving a person in almost two years.

In 2020, an 82-year-old man had to have more than 30 stitches after a bear attack in West Milford.

Wildlife officials said a 2014 bear attack in West Milford claimed the life of a Rutgers University student, the first documented fatality from a bear in state history. Rutgers senior Darsh Patel, 22, and four friends were hiking in the Apshawa Preserve in northern Passaic County when they noticed the bear following them, authorities said. The group scattered and they called police when they realized Patel was missing.

A search team found Patel's body, which showed signs of a bear attack. Police shot and killed a 302-pound bear, which was circling the victim's body.

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