Cops: Lafayette, NJ woman hospitalized after being mauled by bear
LAFAYETTE — A woman is recovering, after being mauled by a black bear along a township road on Wednesday, according to State Police.
The 34-year-old Lafayette resident was walking alongside Gorney Road after 4:30 p.m., when the bear charged and attacked her, troopers said. State Police previously had listed the woman as 33.
The woman had been walking to check her mailbox when she saw "two or three bears" before the physical encounter with a yearling estimated to weigh between 150 pounds and 200 pounds, according to a separate statement from the Department of Environmental Protection.
A neighbor then used his car's horn to scare the bears off, police and the DEP said.
New Jersey Fish and Wildlife staff have set a trap in the area and the bear will be euthanized if caught, under state policy following such aggressive "Category I" encounters.
The woman suffered wounds to her right arm and right side of her body.
She was treated at a local hospital and released by Thursday afternoon.
Local residents said to New Jersey 101.5 that it had happened along Statesville Quarry Road, which intersects with Gorney — and that it was a passing motorist who intervened by swerving his van in the bear’s direction.
Neither State Police nor the Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that information.
Lafayette Township Schools issued a written warning following the attack, urging the community to take extra caution and be aware of surroundings when outdoors.
“We predicted things like this happening when they shut the bear hunt down,” United Bowhunters of New Jersey president, John Erndl, said to New Jersey 101.5 News.
He said the bear population is “exploding” across the state and that more incidents are going to happen, if no further preventative actions are taken.
Last bear hunt
The last bear hunt was in 2020, after which the state’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy was left to expire, as previously vowed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
In September, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council approved an emergency rule that would have allowed for a temporary return of the bear hunt, citing "imminent peril" without one.
Murphy instead said his administration is “committed to nonlethal and humane means to control the bear population.”
“They need to be managed for the protection of everybody,” Erndl said, pointing to other recent incidents that show black bears clashing more frequently and dangerously with humans in the densely populated state.
On Monday, a team with the DEP tranquilized an 89-pound female bear in Newton, in order to remove a chicken feeder that had been stuck on the animal's head.
Last month, a Warren County resident told News 12 that a bear had demolished his chicken coop, killing a dozen chickens and doing extensive property damage.
To report black bear damage and nuisance, residents can call the state DEP's 24-hour, toll-free hotline: 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).