- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WEST MILFORD, N.J. (AP) - Police are trying to identify two hikers who may have come upon a group in a northern New Jersey nature preserve before a bear attacked and killed a Rutgers University student.

West Milford police believe the two hikers could help with the investigation.

Authorities say 22-year-old Darsh Patel and four friends were hiking in the Apshawa Preserve on Sunday when they noticed the bear following them. The group scattered and they called police when they realized Patel was missing.

A search team found Patel’s body, which showed signs of a bear attack. Police shot and killed a 299-pound bear, which was circling the victim’s body.

Wildlife officials believe there is a current shortage of acorns and berries that bears eat. The hikers had granola bars and water with them.

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