A 12-year-old Boy Scout is on the mend after an encounter with a black bear left him with minor injuries, ABC7 reports.
Henry Ayers told the outlet he was with his troop from Cooperstown camping at Harriman State Park, located in both Rockland and Orange counties, Sunday, May 1, when he awoke to a sharp pain in his leg.
"I look up and it was a giant bear,” Ayers told ABC7. “I thought it was a nightmare. It was honestly crazy. I didn't think I was awake."
The Scoutmaster, Diana Nicols, told the outlet the bear bit through the boy’s sleeping bag, leaving him with minor cuts and bruises.
He reportedly had to receive nine rabies shots as a result of the bite.
State Parks employees teamed up with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to track down and euthanize the bear, according to ABC7.
Bear attacks are more likely to occur in the spring and summer months, when the animals seek out human food because natural food sources are harder to find, DEC officials said.
Unintentional conflicts with bears can also arise when people improperly store their home garbage or leave out uncleaned grills and pet food containers.
“Good housekeeping is a requirement wherever black bears are found,” reads the DEC website. “Simple sanitation measures can be the key to avoid attracting bears.”
The department outlined several steps people can take to avoid attracting bears while camping. They include:
- Keep your campsite as clean as possible
- Do not leave coolers or food out at any time
- Never keep food, coolers, or scented items in your tent
- Treat all toiletries as food items
- Clean up after all meals immediately
- Do not put grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles, or other refuse into the fireplace
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