The state Department of Environmental Conservation is warning hikers to be on the alert for aggressive bears on a section of the Northville-Placid Trail in Hamilton County after a woman stabbed a persistent one with a knife.
The DEC has heard of several incidents of nuisance black bears between Wakely Dam and Stephens Pond in the town of Indian Lake.
In one encounter, which took place Wednesday, Sept. 18, three bears followed a woman hiking alone, according to the DEC. The woman made several attempts to scare the animals away, but they continued to follow her. One bear, in particular, got very close to the woman near Stephens Pond.
"Feeling threatened she stabbed the bear with a knife," according to a DEC statement.
The bears then fled, and the woman safely hiked to the state-run Lake Durant Campground.
On Friday, DEC wildlife staff, environmental conservation officers and the hiker walked to the section of the trail where she had the encounters, but they didn't find any sign of the animals.
DEC has posted notices at trailheads, on the DEC Adirondack Trail Information Web pages and at other locations warning hikers, campers and hunters about the aggressive bears.
The notice advises hikers to hike in groups, to make noise by doing things such as talking and clapping hands while walking, and to hike only during daylight. The notice also advises campers to secure food, trash, toiletries and other scented items.
"If approached by a bear, do not run - stand tall, wave you(r) hands over your head and to your sides, yell and clap hands," the DEC said in statement. "If the bear doesn't move off (throw) rocks, sticks or other objects. Do not throw food or objects containing food. If attacked by a black bear, fight back. Use whatever items you have to punch, poke or club the bear."
Incidents between bears and humans that result in people getting injured from bear attacks are extremely rare.
According to the DEC, this recent pattern of behavior on the Northville-Placid Trail may be the result of the bears directly or indirectly obtaining food from other hikers in the past. The DEC is reminding people that it is illegal and dangerous to feed bears.
"Bears that obtain food from humans often become more aggressive over time and must be destroyed," according to the DEC.
The DEC is recommending that anyone who has an encounter with a nuisance bear should call DEC Dispatch at 518-891-0235 at any time of day or night to report the encounter.