Boy Scout suffered minor injuries in bear encounter in Harriman State Park

HARRIMAN STATE PARK, New York (WABC) – A 12-year-old Boy Scout suffered minor injuries and needed a rabies vaccination following a black bear attack at a campground in New York.

It happened during the late hours of Sunday, May 1, at the Tom Jones Shelter in Harriman State Park and featured the Boy Scouts from Cooperstown.

Young Henry Ayers said: ‘I felt very quickly, a burning sensation and pain in my legs. “I looked up, and it was a giant bear. I thought it was a nightmare. It was crazy, I don’t think I’m awake.”

The bear bit into his sleeping bag, and he began to scream – as did some of his scouts – and the bear backed away.

The Director of Scouting, Diana Nicols, posted about the incident on Facebook.

“The scout is okay – minor scratches and some good bumps, and a great story,” she wrote. “This kid is pretty spectacular.”

She said the bear was a young man looking for food who had wandered into their area, but that they had stored his belongings properly.

The scouts, including Ayers, completed their hike the next day as planned, but He had received nine rabies shots since the bite.

“I made a mistake,” Ayers said. “I put some food in my bag and spilled some on my feet and other people themselves left a lot of garbage around.”

Nichols said the bear went back to the camp a few times, that’s when she took the video, but it never got close to humans.

RELATED | The bear was brought out to safety after getting stuck in a tree in the backyard of his New Jersey home

Camping areas and shelters are temporarily closed while the Departments of Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation deal with the issue.

Officials said in a joint statement: “The bear’s dangerous behavior demonstrates a focus on human presence, persistence foraging near humans and a clear threat to humans. human safety”.

On May 5, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees working with State Parks and the DEC captured and euthanized the bear according to appropriate procedures.

Ayers will receive a special bear sticker to add to his uniform, and his mom says he’s already planning his next camping adventure.

“They learned a lot of ways to respect nature,” says Nicols. “I think the kids who saw this happen know why it happened. They know bears do what bears do.”

The DEC reminds the public that although bear attacks on people are extremely rare, these are large, powerful wild animals and contact with them should be avoided for the safety of the public and the health of the animals. .

Tip number one is to never feed a bear, but the DEC offers the following additional advice:
– Keep your campsite as clean as possible. Clean up immediately after all meals.
– Keep grills, pots, pans, cooking utensils clean and rinse sinks when not in use.
– Do not leave food or cold items out at any time. Store them in the trunk of your car or truck cab, with windows closed and out of sight of the cooler.
–Never keep food, coolers, or scented items in your tent, and do not wear clothing worn when preparing or eating to bed.
– Treat all toiletries as food. Sanitary products smell and appeal to bears like actual food.
– Do not put grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles or other garbage into the heater. These items that do not burn properly will attract bears with their smell.

If a bear approaches:
– Using noise, including shouting, clapping or banging pots
– Stay calm, walk slowly and speak in a loud, calm voice. Or you can move away slowly by carefully stepping behind the bear. Don’t run away from it.
–Do not approach, surround or corner a bear, run away from the bear, or throw your backpack or bag of food at an approaching bear.
– If a bear charges you, stand your ground and if you have packed bear spray, distribute it directly to the bear. You should make sure you know how to do it properly before you set off on your trip.
–Use the buddy system. Multiple people together seem to be a bigger threat to a bear, so don’t separate.
– A bear standing on its hind legs is not a prelude to an attack. Bears do this to better see and smell their surroundings.
– Avoid direct eye contact, which may be seen as challenging by bears.
–The bear can utter a series of whistles, making popping sounds by snapping its jaws and bobbing on the ground. These are warning signs that you are getting too close. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run.
– Black bears will sometimes “charge bluffs” when cornered, threatened or attempted to steal food. Hold your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and don’t run.
– If the bear doesn’t leave, move to a safe area.
– Families living in areas frequented by black bears should have a “Bear Plan” for children, with emergency exits and planned use of horns and air horns.
– Use a certified bear-resistant trash can and leave it outdoors if you live in an area frequented by black bears. Certified bear-resistant trash cans have passed official testing and are proven to keep bears out. Certified containers provide the best protection.

RELATED | Woman hospitalized after being mauled by a bear while checking mail

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