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New Jersey Police Seek 2 Hikers As Part Of Bear Attack Probe

WEST MILFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Police are trying to identify two hikers who may have come upon a group in a New Jersey nature preserve before a bear attacked and killed a Rutgers University student.

West Milford police believe the two hikers could help with the investigation.

Darsh Patel, 22, and four friends were hiking in the Apshawa Preserve in northern Passaic County on Sunday 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.

"There was bite marks and claw marks on the body," West Milford police Chief Tim Storbeck said.

Police shot and killed a 299-pound bear, which was circling the victim's body.

Wildlife officials believe there is a current shortage of acorns and berries that bears eat.

The hikers had granola bars and water with them, but there is no indication they fed the bear, officials said.

Patel was a senior at Rutgers University's School of Arts and Sciences, majoring in information technology and informatics.

The fatal incident appears to be the first-ever instance of a black bear killing a person in New Jersey.

In 2002, a black bear killed a baby girl from Brooklyn. The child was snatched from a stroller at a resort colony in the Catskills while her mother led other children to safety.

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