Be Prepared ... With a Hammer, in Case You Get Attacked by a Bear in a New Jersey Cave

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A black bear scavenges for food beside t
Photo: MARK RALSTON/2009 AFP

A Boy Scout troop in New Jersey wandered out into the wilderness on Sunday and accidentally ended up reenacting five seconds from The Revenant trailer

Fifty-year-old leader Christopher Petronino was taking three Boy Scouts to a cave in Rockaway Township that he remembered visiting when he was younger — perhaps forgetting that we are in the middle of prime napping season for large northeastern predators, thanks to the weirdly balmy weather we’ve had this December (although Petronino did say he had never seen a bear in the cave before). He began to enter the cave when something grabbed him and dragged him inside. It was a black bear; there are so many bears in the state that a recent statewide hunt killed about 500 of them in an effort to reduce the population. 

A spokesperson for the state Environmental Protection Agency told the New York Times that Petronino was in the cave for “a substantial amount of time.”

The Boy Scout leader told the three kids, who weren’t hurt, to go call 911, which didn’t do much since they were unable to tell anyone where they were. Meanwhile, Petronino was whacking the bear over the head with a rock hammer while it bit and scratched him on the head and neck. Their dog’s barking eventually scared the bear away, and Petronino called 911 himself — about an hour after the first call — leading emergency personnel on the radio to utter the words, “We have a gentleman in the cave with the bear, he has been injured by the bear.” He was taken to a hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. 

And that’s why you always leave a note explaining your exact whearabouts before walking into a cave.