Two local boys were hurt when a black bear attacked their campsite in northwestern New Jersey Wednesday, puncturing one child's foot and scratching the shoulder of the other as it boldly entered campers' tents.
The attack occurred around 5 a.m. in a heavily wooded area of Stokes State Forest in Sussex County near the Appalachian Trail. The black bear entered an area being used by campers from Montague-based Trail Blazers Camp, state police said.
The bear attempted to grab one child out of a tent, causing a puncture wound on his foot, and went to a second tent, where it swiped at another boy, scratching his shoulder, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The injured campers are described as a 12-year-old from Jersey City and an 11-year-old from Brooklyn. Both were taken to a hospital.
Two adult counselors were with the group of nine campers and herded them into a partially enclosed shelter, where they made as much noise as possible to try to scare the bear away while calling for help, Hajna said.
The bear left but soon returned and was rummaging through the campsite when a wildlife technician arrived and shot it in the neck.
The injured bear fled into the woods and conservation officials are still searching for it. Wildlife officials say the bear is a yearling, the age between cub and full-grown when a bear strikes out on its own. They have laid traps in the area.
"The bear will be shot once it's found ... it will be killed," said state biologist Al Ivany.
Bear attacks are infrequent in New Jersey, according to Hajna, who says black bears can be curious but usually run away when people make noise. Hajna says bear incidents have decreased this year, with about 16 sightings reported and no other attacks.
Some campers aren't letting the attack scare them off their summer plans.
"I'm not going to cut short our summer vacation," said Harold Taylor.
"But we're going to be more cautious," added his wife, Desirene.
Trail Blazers website says it is hosting more than 400 children in its programs this summer.