Hunt For Black Bear Continues After Attack On 2 Boys At New Jersey Campsite

BRANCHVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 12-year-old Jersey City boy and an 11-year-old Brooklyn boy sustained minor injuries after a black bear attacked their campsite in New Jersey early Wednesday morning.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney With Campers At The Site

The attack occurred shortly after 5 a.m. in Stokes State Forest in Sussex County. Police said a black bear entered the Glen Anderson area being used by the Montague-based youth camp, Trail Blazers, while the campers were asleep.

“This has never occurred in 25 years of camp,” the camp’s executive director, Riel Peerbooms, told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.  “The outdoors comes with challengers, but we certainly wouldnt put anyone at any risk. That would be unreasonable, so bear encounters can probably not be prevented.”

Two counselors gathered the group of nine children in a partially enclosed cabin and made noise to scare the bear away.

The bear left the site of the attack and then returned. It was rummaging through the campsite when state fish and game officials arrived.

A state wildlife technician was able to shoot the bear in the neck before the animal fled into the woods.  It is now being hunted by a Department of Environmental Protection response team. The orders are to shoot to kill.

The Victims Suffered Only Minor Injuries. 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan Reports.

“It will be euthanized if it’s found,” Al Ivany, of the agency’s Fish & Wildlife Division, told CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport.

The bear is being tracked by conservation officers with the help of a blood-sniffing dog, according to the DEP.

Troopers said one of the boys suffered a puncture wound after the bear grabbed him by the foot and tried to pull him out of a tent. The bear then swiped at another tent, scratching a second boy on the shoulder.

Both children were taken to a local hospital for treatment. The attack reportedly lasted about 15 minutes.

Sections of the Appalachian Trail and intersecting hiking trails that run through Stokes State Forest have been closed.

“A wounded bear is actually not more dangerous, it’s less dangerous,” DEP spokesman Larry Raganese told 1010 WINS. “The wounded bear would tend to want to hide and recover from a wound if it can.”

Raganese said this is this first attack on humans by a black bear in New Jersey this year.

“The bear was looking for food and it really didn’t differentiate between kids and food,” he told CBS 2’s Hennessey.

The DEP advises campers and hikers to store food properly in bear-proof containers, or in their vehicles, and to always use caution in bear country.

In this case, however, the campsite food was apparently locked up and there were no attractants to draw the bear in.

Last month, three teenagers from the Tri-State Area were attacked by a grizzly bear while on a survival training expedition in Alaska.

Do you feel safe letting your children go camping? Let us know below…

  • Herb

    Let’s try to look at facts:
    1. There was no injury of the boys
    2. There is no evidence that A bear damaged tents. Could that have been a prank?
    3. There was a statement that the bear “…left and returned” How do we know that the bear shot was not just another bear attracted to the noise?
    4. Does DEP have the authority to shoot first and ask questions later?
    5. Once the bear was trapped, why couldn’t it be tranquilized and put into a trap until the uncertainties were worked out?
    6. Sounds like the DEP was watching the clock, didn’t want to pay overtime, and didn’t want to ruin a weekend for other human campers and hikers. To heck with a bear’s life.

  • Steve

    No reason to kill that bear No harm was done the rangers should of checked the story out and witness before shooting something that didn’t do any harm to anyone
    What goes around comes around

  • J. A. Beck

    I live in West Milford with the bears. We don’t have a problem. City people have the ptoblems. We’ve taught our children to be “bear aware” and live along side these mangnificent animals.

  • Claire Phillip

    My two children have attended this very camp combined for over 15 years now and nothing like this has ever happened. I feel very very safe sending my son who is 14 now to Trailblazers, he has gone every single year and it’s one of his favorite camps. Riel is an excellent Administrator and truly care about the children. I’ve personally been to the camp and have seen how it’s set up and that food is carefully put away, etc. My son will be going back next year. To Riel and the Trailblazers staff I put total trust in you all because every year you’ve taken good care in ensuring the safety of not only my child but every child that attends Trailblazers.

  • DL

    My daughter was up at stokes beginning of july for 2 weeks she said they had bear get into trash outside mess hall and they had to clean it up and the bear also walked by cabin 5 on the weekend My prayers for the boys speedy recovery and anyone else who witness this… We all need to remember were invading there area…

    • WilsonVictor

      this wouldn’t have happened. Bears are not dumb — they’ll come looking for food if they can smell it! Can’t blame their instincts, but you can expect a camp taking kids into the woods to make sure they do everything necessary to keep their campers safe.@Dita I just paid $23,98 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $37,59 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $677 which only cost me $72,13 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • Ralph Cramden

    I know what happened!!! I’m definately NOT prejudice at ALL! BUT, these children were not properly instructed NOW, these children were from the city and went camping on a whim If at all anything, these children especially African American
    probably had (SNACKY) in the tent! such as watermellon jelly ranchers, sunflower seeds ECT. NOW! sunflower seeds can be smelt up to two miles more in distance than a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich!!! As you see I’m a survivalist from
    NYC. (THE STREETS) lol and the Amazon, SAhara desert ect. The children should have been searched along with their tents, sleeping quarters, ect.
    Do you get the picture?

  • bill burns

    NAACP says leave the colored animals alone or the ACLU will sue tou.

  • E

    I would absolutely allow my children to camp in rural NJ. I have instructed my boys and webelo scouts on bear safety while camping. We all know to store food in the car, away from the campsite or safely sealed and stored away from tents. Attacks like this one are rare. The chances of this kind of “unprovoked” incident are slim to none, and I question if the all the logical steps had been taken. I would not deprive my children of hiking/camping experience based on fear of a one in a thousand chance occurance… As long as they demonstrate knowledge of bear safety ahead of time.

    • Matthew

      Storing food in the car is not a good idea. Bears can and do break windows on cars – at least they do in California. Maybe the bears in CA are stronger than the NJ bears. We are told NEVER store food in the car. The food containers in CA camp grounds are the only place we store food. I’m surprised the state of NJ doesn’t provide better storage for food at its state camp grounds.


    Do you want to try bear meat?

  • Erin

    Campers and counselors need to be better educated before going into the woods. If you follow the rules (e.I., no food in the tent, cooking at least 100 ft from where you’ll be sleeping and NOT in the clothes you’ll be sleeping in, etc.), this wouldn’t have happened. Bears are not dumb — they’ll come looking for food if they can smell it! Can’t blame their instincts, but you can expect a camp taking kids into the woods to make sure they do everything necessary to keep their campers safe.

  • Tom G

    The bear was shot because he proved he is dangerous. End of story.
    I know , I know- they were in it’s territory-blah blah blah– if the bear attacked to protect it’s cubs- it more than likely wouldn’t have been shot. This bear apparently walked into a campsite and attacked those kids while they were sleeping- UNPROVOKED. It needs to be killed.

    • MeMerciless

      Kids…there’s your evidence. garanteed they had candy wrappers in the tent. Make no mistake here.

    • rtm

      did those kids have food in their tents ? then it’s not unprovoked

    • Even Steven

      Tom i wish that was your child he ate! tee hee

  • Sarah

    Bears shouldn’t be harmed like this – yes their attacks can be lethal but not if you follow the proper safety procedures when you go to such areas! and Carry Bear Spray instead of shooting bears!

    • PoliticiansSuck

      Bear Spray doesn’t always work, & if a bear actually did pull a kid from a tent, then by NJ bear policy standards it has to be killed. This is because a bear is smart; it can’t unlearn what it learns. If you teach it to eat trash, it will keep doing it, & if it learns to get food from an empty tent, it will check ALL tents for food because it learned that a tent is a food source. It might be pulling a kid out of the tent to get to the food it learned can be inside (coolers, snacks, etc.). Very doubtfula black bear has learned to eat kids in tent. Regardless, it all comes down to what the bear learned from a STUPID HUMAN!!

  • Micha

    Why did they have to shoot the poor thing? These campers obviously had food out and it attracted the bear. God forbid this animal actually does what comes naturally to him and track his food. I hope it survives…

  • Virginia Linan

    My family always camp at this place and never had this unfortunate incident, actually we were there till last sunday.
    Sometimes people do not understand that is a bear’s house.

  • JMS

    Very surprising to hear about a black bear attack. they usually only do that when they preceive that their cubs are threatened. glad there were only minor injuries. i imagine those 2 kids were scared shi tless



  • Ant928

    How about “Time to realize you’re in THEIR territory?!?!?” This wasn’t the suburbs…it was a FOREST. It’s the bear’s house…not theirs.

    • Chelsea

      I agree Ant928! This is so upsetting…

    • Lucy

      I so agree. Thank God the children survived. BUT why did not just tranquilize the Bear???….We are always taking over the domain of wild animals…The poor thing is just bleeding to death, when they could have knocked it out and place it in another place where humans are rare..But that is not so.
      My God..We let a young guilty girl go free for running wild around town while knowing her child was dead..But the Park Rangers are getting off on their trek to find a wounded bear..Cannot beleive writers comments.”A wounded Bear is less dangerous than not being wounded. What a sad freaking country we live in

    • Janet Piszar

      This egregious unjustified cub killing is case in point as to why NJ needs true trust reform.
      While wildife is held in trust for all as a publicly owned resource, the hunters continue to have control over wildlife. With the special interest bias of hunters to create/perpetuate recreational hunts, escalating bear behavior from normal and typical to dangerous and aggressive is one ploy to attempt to gain public support of bear hunting.

      When in 2010 the state sponsored public comment period revealed 70% against bear hunts, they saw the need to crank up their propagandized campaign.

      The Div. Fish and Wildilfe and their hunter constituency continually show irreverance to even vast public opinion. The Council that has authority for all game animnal policy, has no voice, no vote and no representation for the vast public that should have equal and lawful jurisdiction over wildlife management policy.

      The vast public is becoming educated and outraged. The archaic statutes that maintain status quo WILL change……the more outrageous the behaviors of the DFW, the quicker they add to their own demise.

      Janet Piszar, Campaign Manager
      PUBLIC TRUST Wildlife Management

  • Jd

    Time for another bear hunt

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