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Scoutmaster's Bear Encounter Ends After He Fights Off Animal With Hammer

Image: Scoutmaster's Bear Encounter Ends After He Fights Off Animal With Hammer
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By    |   Monday, 21 Dec 2015 12:06 PM

A scoutmaster was attacked and dragged into a cave by a bear over the weekend in New Jersey while hiking with three young Boy Scouts, but managed to escape thanks to his survival skills.

Christopher Petronino, 50, suffered bites and scratches but was able to get away by using a rock hammer to beat off his attacker, NJ.com reported.

It happened Sunday afternoon as Petronino and his scouts were hiking the Splitrock Reservoir in Rockaway Township, New Jersey. They came upon a cave Petronino was familiar with, but the group didn't realize there was a black bear inside. The animal reportedly grabbed Petronino by his foot and pulled him further into the cave, according to the newspaper.

"Petronino struck the bear twice in the head with a rock hammer. He then pulled his sweatshirt over his head and curled into the fetal position," Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine said in a statement. "He yelled to the scouts, who were outside the cave, to leave and go get help."

According to NorthJersey.com, the bear bit Petronino on the leg and both shoulders during the attack. Petronino told the scouts to leave any food they had at the mouth of the cave after hearing the bear "huffing."

According to the North American Bear Center's website, bears tend to huff when their tension eases, just as a person might take a deep breath after being scared. The website said retreating bears often huff when they feel safe enough to stop running.

The scouts used Petronino's cell phone to call 911 during the ordeal that lasted about an hour, according to NorthJersey.com. Considine said that the bear eventually walked out of the cave and a dog that came with the group began barking. The bear then ran up a hill away from the cave after hearing the dog bark.

Emergency personnel airlifted Petronino to Morristown Medical Center for treatment. The scout leader later told investigators that it was the first time he had seen a bear in the cave after visiting that Splitrock spot for decades, NJ.com noted.

"Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers and the Wildlife Control Unit believe the bear was protecting its hibernation location and they do not, at this point, consider the bear to be a Category I bear," Considine told the news website.

A Category I bear would be considered a threat to public safety and property, according to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

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A scoutmaster was attacked and dragged into a cave by a bear over the weekend in New Jersey while hiking with three young Boy Scouts, but managed to escape thanks to his survival skills.
scoutmaster, bear, attacked, hammer, escape
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2015-06-21
Monday, 21 Dec 2015 12:06 PM
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