N.J. hiker’s death blamed on bear

A 300-pound male bear believed to have killed a hiker in northern New Jersey was circling the victim when sheriff’s officers and wildlife officials killed it.

Rutgers University student Darsh Patel, 22, and four friends from Edison, New Jersey, were hiking Sunday in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford, about 45 miles northwest of New York City, when the black bear began following them. The group split up and ran, and Patel’s body was found two hours later.

West Milford Police Chief Timothy Storbeck says the bear was 30 to 40 yards from the body and wouldn’t leave when officers tried to scare it away.

Environmental officials say it’s the first fatal bear attack in New Jersey on record.

As many as 2,400 bears live in the forests of North Jersey.

Patel was a senior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in information technology and informatics.

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