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Boy Scout, 12, wakes up to find a BEAR gnawing on his leg through his sleeping bag

‘I felt a really quick… pain in my leg’: Boy Scout, 12, wakes up to BEAR gnawing on his leg after the hungry animal tore into his sleeping bag during New York camping trip

  • Henry Ayers was camping with his group at the Tom Jones Shelter in Harriman State Park on May 5 when the black bear approached his sleeping bag
  • He was camping with his group at the Tom Jones Shelter in Harriman State Park
  • ‘I felt a really quick, sharp sensation, a pain in my leg,’ Henry said. ‘I look up, and it was a giant bear. I thought it was a nightmare. It was honestly crazy.’
  • According to scoutmaster Diana Nicols, Henry yelled and kicked the bear, making him leave for a while. He suffered minor abrasions on his legs  
  • The US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental (DEC) Conservation reviewed the case and the bear was euthanized on May 5
  • Henry has had nine rabies shots since the incident

A 12-year-old boy scout woke up to a bear gnawing on his leg through his sleeping bag during a camping trip in upstate New York. 

Henry Ayers, of Cooperstown, was camping with his group at the Tom Jones Shelter in Harriman State Park on May 5 when the black bear tore into his sleeping bag around 1 a.m. 

‘I felt a really quick, sharp sensation, a pain in my leg,’ Henry told abc7

‘I look up, and it was a giant bear. I thought it was a nightmare. It was honestly crazy, I didn’t think I was awake.’

According to scoutmaster Diana Nicols, Henry yelled and kicked the bear, scaring the hungry animal off for a while. But the animal returned several times until around 4 a.m., when it left for good. 

The scout suffered minor abrasions on his legs and a contusion, and received nine rabies shots since the incident.

The boy admitted that he may have accidentally attracted the bear to the camp.

‘I made a mistake,’ Henry told abc7. ‘I left some of my food in my bag and spilled some on my leg and it was also other people that left a lot of trash around.’ 

Nicols said that the bear was a young adult looking for food that was likely attracted by trash in the park area. 

‘I’m sure the humans make their job harder than the bears. When we first arrived our scouts collected a 12 gal bag full of camping slobs’ trash,’ she wrote on Facebook. 

The brave scout’s passion for camping has not been deterred and he will now be given a bear patch to add to his uniform. 

Henry Ayers, of Cooperstown woke up to a bear gnawing on his leg through his sleeping bag during a camping trip in upstate New York

He suffered minor abrasions on his legs and a contusion

He suffered minor abrasions on his legs and a contusion

He was camping with his group at the Tom Jones Shelter in Harriman State Park on May 5 when the black bear approached his sleeping bag around 1 a.m.

He was camping with his group at the Tom Jones Shelter in Harriman State Park on May 5 when the black bear approached his sleeping bag around 1 a.m.

‘The Scout is okay – minor abrasions and some good contusions, and an amazing story,’ Nicols wrote. ‘This kid is pretty spectacular.’ 

She said after the first encounter, the bear did not get close enough for her to use bear spray. 

‘We rehung the bear bags higher to be less tempting, and it left for good. That low bear bag was not one of ours, btw. What a concrete illustration of why we practice good bear etiquette!’ she added.   

‘The Scouts in our troop are calling it a ”tasting”. They were all comfortable finishing our hiking and climbing trip as planned,’ Nicols wrote. 

'We rehung the bear bags higher to be less tempting, and it left for good. That low bear bag was not one of ours, btw. What a concrete illustration of why we practice good bear etiquette!' she added.

‘We rehung the bear bags higher to be less tempting, and it left for good. That low bear bag was not one of ours, btw. What a concrete illustration of why we practice good bear etiquette!’ she added.

Henry Ayers (left) at the Harriman State Park with another Scout fellow

Henry Ayers (left) at the Harriman State Park with another Scout fellow

The brave scout's passion for camping has not been deterred and he will now be given a bear patch to add to his uniform

The brave scout’s passion for camping has not been deterred and he will now be given a bear patch to add to his uniform

According to scoutmaster Diana Nicols, Henry yelled and kicked the bear, making him leave for a while. He suffered minor abrasions on his legs and a contusion

According to scoutmaster Diana Nicols, Henry yelled and kicked the bear, making him leave for a while. He suffered minor abrasions on his legs and a contusion

Nicols said that the kids had definitely learned a lesson from this experience.

‘I think the kids who saw this happen know, why it happened. They know that bears do what bears do,’ she said. 

The US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental (DEC) Conservation reviewed the case and the bear was euthanized on May 5. 

SAFETY TIPS TO REMEMBER FOR BLACK BEAR ENCOUNTERS 

  • Do not approach ot feed bears, and remain calm if you do encounter one
  • Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises
  • Make sure the bear has an escape route
  • If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open
  • Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge. Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away
  • To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an airhorn
  • Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head
  • The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws and swat the ground. These are warning signs that you are too close
  • Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run
  • If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior 
  • Black bears will sometimes ‘bluff charge’ when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. 
  • Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run
  • If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area
  • Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to the USDA Wildlife Services at 1-800-433-0633 (southern Wisconsin) or 1-800-228-1368 (Northern Wisconsin)
  • Families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a ‘Bear Plan’ in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns
  • Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back

 

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