State officials have closed trails at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington after a hiker came dangerously close to a brazen black bear Friday afternoon.
Wildlife staff from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the bear, a male, is about a year-and-a-half old and weighs 150 pounds.
Hiker Stephanie Rivkin captured video of the close encounter and shared her footage with NBC Connecticut.
"I had no idea whether or not I was supposed to be scared," she said. "I just felt if I ran, I would be attacked."
The video shows a tagged bear walking slowly toward her, then pacing back and forth. Rivkin begins walking alongside the animal as another bear approaches from behind them.
"It was unlike anything I ever experienced before, so I didn't really know how to react or respond," Rivkin recalled. "I kind of just stayed as calm as I could and it seemed to work. I got out alive."
A second video posted on Rivkin's personal Facebook page shows the bear getting closer, circling her and then scampering off. At one point, the animal appears to reach out and open its mouth as if to bite her leg.
"I felt his nose touch my leg and that's as close as he got," she said. "The teeth, I saw them clearly, but thank God I didn't feel them."
Officials said Rivkin was not hurt.
"DEEP staff had a chance to talk with this woman after her encounter with the bear," agency spokesman Dennis Schain said in a statement Friday. "We are relieved she was not injured. This was certainly an unusual incident as bears do not often approach people."
Tags on the bear's ears indicate DEEP began tracking it as a yearling over the winter. The bear was captured and relocated at least once, according to the agency.
Wildlife staff are searching for the bear and plan to euthanize it, according to Schain.
"That is the appropriate action to take after seeing this bear's behavior today," Schain explained in an email to NBC Connecticut.
Rivkin said she wishes the bears could be saved.
"I hope the bears maybe can be moved to a safer area where they're not putting hikers in danger," she said.
Signs posted at Sessions Woods notify hikers that the trails are closed.
If you spot a bear while hiking or camping, wave your arms to make your presence known and back away slowly. Do not approach or interact with the animal.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Rivkin
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