Black bear that attacked Scout leader hiking with kids won’t be killed
State officials will have mercy on both parties of a human-bear encounter in Rockaway Township over the weekend.
Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, wildlife officials said they have no plans to trap or kill a black bear that dragged a Boonton man into a cave on Sunday.
And the victim, 50-year-old Christopher Petronino, won't be facing any charges, even though he voluntarily entered the cave while on a hiking trip with three Boy Scouts, including his son.
"They were just out hiking, enjoying a day in the wilderness," said Sean Cianciulli, a conservation officer with the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
But that day turned into a nightmare when Petronino entered a cave he'd become familiar with over the years. A bear immediately grabbed his foot, pulled him further into the cave, and bit the man's leg and shoulders, according to the victim's account.
Petronino reportedly struck the bear with a rock hammer before curling into the fetal position and directing the scouts, who were outside the cave, to get help.
After the scouts called 911 and attempted to lure the bear out of the cave with fruit and nuts, the bear eventually exited and ran away from the scene.
That's when Petronino made his way out and contacted emergency services as well. Eighty minutes had passed between the two calls for help.
"At this point, we are not pursuing capture of that bear," said Dave Chanda, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. "It was just defending an area that it had set up, where it was going to spend the winter."
The outing was not an official Scout event, according to a local chapter leader and state officials. If it were, two adults leaders would have been required on scene.
The victim was treated for severe lacerations to his head, shoulders and legs, officials said.