Newspaper corrects bear attack error made in 1852

AP News
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Posted: Oct 10, 2014 7:18 PM

NEWTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey newspaper has issued a correction for a story it published in 1852 about a bear mauling a teenage boy to death.

The story didn't list a location of the bear attack, making it appear it happened in New Jersey. The New Jersey Herald wrote in Thursday's correction it actually happened in Arkansas.

Herald Executive Editor Bruce Tomlinson said a reader pointed out the error when the newspaper re-published the story this week. The newspaper then discovered that the original story was first published in Little Rock, Arkansas.

"Boy killed and eaten by a bear!" reads the report from Sept. 11, 1852.

It says that the boy was killed by an "enormous bear" and that "a large portion of the body of the unfortunate youth had been devoured by the savage animal."

The bear attack story was included in a 2003 retrospective published by the newspaper for Sussex County's 250th anniversary. The fatal bear attack was then included as the only one known in New Jersey history by the Department of Environmental Protection in its comprehensive bear management report in 2010, spokesman Larry Hajna said.

Last month, a Rutgers University student, Darsh Patel, of Edison, was killed by a black bear while hiking with four friends in the Apshawa Preserve, about 45 miles northwest of New York City. DEP officials said at the time that the attack on Patel was the first fatal bear-human encounter on record in New Jersey.

"This is the first fatal attack in recent history," DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said in September. "There may have been some attack in the 1900s that's rumor or legend, but nothing recorded."

State and local officials stressed that bear attacks are rare even in a region of the state that may have as many as 2,400 bears in its dense forests.

Hajna said that the state is evaluating five years of bear hunts as it prepares to recommend whether to make any changes to its bear management strategy. The last scheduled bear hunt is set for the week of Dec. 8.

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