A black bear has been euthanized in New Jersey after attacking an elderly man in his garage — leaving him needing 30 stitches to his face, according to reports.
Ronald Jelinek, 82, told cops that he was attacked when he returned to the garage of his West Milford home after leaving the door open while taking his dog for a walk on July 24, officials told the Daily Record.
The bear was behind a refrigerator in his garage — swiping Jelinek’s face as it fought to get to the food, police told the local paper.
“It must have been a young bear because it only stood about 5 feet while on its hinds,” West Milford Police Chief James DeVore told the paper.
The same bear had “displayed a pattern of entering nearby dwellings multiple times” in the same week, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokeswoman Caryn Shinske told the Record.
The state Division of Fish and Wildlife brought a trap to the High Crest Lake area and the bear was trapped and euthanized last Tuesday, officials told the paper.
It is the only bear attack on a human recorded in the state in either 2019 or 2020, the paper noted.
Local officials are urging people to be “bear aware” in the state — with more sightings put down to the animals being less scared off by humans as they stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jeff Tittel, the executive director of the New Jersey chapter of environmentalists in the Sierra Club, said the “unfortunate” attack could have been avoided.
“Keeping a garage door open in the middle of summer is an open invitation for bears,” Tittel told the Daily Record, warning people to also not keep food in garages.
He also said that people eating home more from the pandemic means more garbage, which “means more bears.”