‘Bear attack’ in Vernon wasn’t an attack at all, DEP says
VERNON — A woman who encountered a bear in Vernon was not attacked, contrary to some media reports Thursday, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
"We do not consider it to be a bear attack as some outlets have been reporting it," DEP spokesman Bob Considine said. He said a woman was walking her dog in Vernon in the Pleasant Lake section when she saw a sow, or mother bear, with her two cubs in the woods.
"As she turned to walk away, which is the right thing to do, she fell and injured her tailbone. After she fell the bear did what's called a bluff charge where it basically runs and then stops," Considine said.
The bear then hovered over the screaming woman, who kicked the bear, he said.
"Her neighbor came out beeping a horn and the bear ran off," Considine said.
"The bear did not make contact with her. She made contact with the bear," according to Considine, who said the bear has not been since since the encounter. "It was just a bear being a bear."
“Obviously, this was a very traumatic incident. Any kind of close interaction with a bear that bluff charges is going to be extremely upsetting, even for folks who see these bears in the part of the state, they don’t expect bears to approach and hover," Considine said.
Considine said the neighborhood is very wooded and is near the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers the following tips about what to do if you encounter a bear
• Never feed or approach a bear.
• Make your presence on the trail known by speaking loudly, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
• Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Do not run from it. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear, as this may be perceived as a challenge. Slowly back away.
• Make sure the bear has an escape route.
• If the bear continues to follow you or is otherwise undeterred, make loud noises by yelling, blowing a whistle, banging pots and pans, or using an air horn, if available. 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Black bear attacks are extremely rare. However, if one does attack, fight back. Do not “play dead.”
• If you see a bear, in particular one that does not show much fear, immediately contact local police or the Department of Environmental Protection’s hotline at (877) 927-6337, or (877) WARN-DEP