WEST MILFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was an absolute shock when a black bear killed a hiker in West Milford in September.

“You’re far more likely to win Mega Millions a couple times before this was going to happen to you,” said Kelsey Burgess with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

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By some accounts, there had not been a fatal bear attack in New Jersey in more than 150 years.

“You know, black bears are predators,” Burgess said. “They do kill things and eat them, and that’s how they were designed.”

It’s estimated that there are close to 2,000 black bears in North Jersey. Jeff Tittel and the Sierra Club teach hikers to be aware of bears.

“First and foremost, we educate the hikers that come with us,” Tittel said. “They can’t bring food with them along the trail when they go hiking.”

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What if you encounter a bear?

“Throw rocks, throw sticks, whatever you have handy or available,” Burgess said. “Black bears can be intimidated. If you intimidate them, then they’re going to stay away from you. Last thing you want to do is you don’t want to turn; you don’t want to run. You’re never going to outrun a black bear, so there’s no sense starting to try.”

What else should you not do?

“There’s an old adage out there that you cover and curl up into a ball and put your hands behind your neck,” Burgess said. “Well, that works if you’re in grizzly bear country, but not if you’re in black bear country.”

And what about if the bear finally attacks?

“You want to fight,” Burgess said. “You want to punch for the eyes. You want to punch for the nose. You want to fight back, kick, whatever you can possibly do. The nose on a black bear is extremely sensitive. … And again, if it’s to that level, you’ve got to do whatever you can possibly do to survive.”

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