New Jersey wildlife officials are investigating an apparently deadly attack of a 22-year-old man by a black bear in Apshawa Preserve on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
Five friends were hiking in the nature preserve when they saw the bear. Reuters reports that when the bear began to follow the hikers, they panicked and fled in different directions. After they regrouped, they realized one member of the group, Darsh Patel, was missing.
The group contacted the police, who found Patel’s body two hours later, along with evidence that the bear had attacked and killed him. A bear circling the body at the scene was euthanized, but officials continue to investigate the incident.
“The last fatal bear attack [in New Jersey] was in the 1850s,” New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Larry Hajna told Outside. “We’ve had bear sightings in all kinds of environments, and they’ve always been safely resolved.”
Though black bears are not known for attacking people, Hajna cautions that hikers should always keep their distance. The state outlines safety tips for outdoor enthusiasts if they do encounter a bear.