Police Investigate NJ Man's Claim He Was Scratched by Bear on Back Porch

Police are investigating after a New Jersey man called police to say he was attacked by a black bear that attacked him when he went outside to feed his cats.

The Pohatcong man called 911 after he allegedly encountered the bear, thought to be between 300 and 400 pounds, when he went outside his home at about 9 a.m., authorities said.

He reported that the startled bear lunged and scratched him before running off into the wilderness.

The man, who told police he had seen bears near his home before, had minor injuries and was taken to an area hospital.

Sources told NBC 4 New York that his injuries didn't appear to be consistent with a bear attack, and police at the scene Wednesday morning said they wouldn't call the encounter an "attack."

Authorities said they still have to talk with the homeowner and were trying to track down the bear Wednesday afternoon.

It's not clear if the man would face charges if the attack turned out to be a false report. 

Bears are common in the region and have been seen in most if not all of the state's 21 counties, but the number of human encounters with the beasts has decreased in recent years due to population management and hiker education, authorities say.

Anyone who encounters a bear should speak slowly and avoid panicking, Ragonese said. Do not run, but calmly walk ahead, he said, and avoid feeding the animals.

In September 2014, a 22-year-old Rutgers student hiking with friends in a northern New Jersey nature preserve was mauled by a bear and killed, marking the state's first deadly bear attack on a human in recent history. 

West Milford police say Darsh Patel and four friends from Edison were hiking in the Apshawa Preserve, a 576-acre natural area used for hiking and bird watching, when they encountered the bear.

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