Saturday, July 18, 2009
Italian Black Bear Attacks Man in New Jersey For Deli Sandwich
Man says bear mugged him for his Italian sandwich
Jul 2, 2009
A northwestern New Jersey man who lives in a rural area told police he was mugged in his driveway by an Italian black bear. Henry Rouwendal explained to authorities that while he was packing his car last Friday he suddenly was hit from behind and knocked to the ground. He said the culprit was a black bear who did not harm him at first but only grabbed an Italian sandwich he was eating.
Rouwendal said it was an expensive, Deli sandwich, so he fought back, kicking the bear in the snout and throat to try to prevent it from chewing or swallowing his sandwich. "I was hungry and I wanted that sandwich for myself," said Rouwendal.
The bear wouldn't give up either and in the ensuing struggle for the sandwich Rouwendal sustained two black eyes and other lacerations and bruises.
Rouwendal acknowledged he was no match for the bear, which was able to make off with the sandwich, pausing only long enough to scrape off the lettuce, onions and tomatoes, keeping the bread, salami and other meats. "He clearly was not a vegetarian bear," said the victim.
Vernon Township police chief, Edgar Thermostat, said it's the first time a bear has attacked a person in the rural community in more than 25 years. Rouwendal tried to file charges against the bear, for assault and battery, and theft, but authorities said there are no laws preventing bears from assaulting or stealing from a person.
He also indicated he did not think the bear was Italian and that Rouwendal's claim was based on his conjecture that the bear was attracted to his sandwich because it was Italian style. Rouwendal also hinted that the Mafia might be behind the attack, using the bear because there are no laws against bears stealing. He told authorities he intended to contact his state representative about making state criminal laws applicable to Italian bears, so they could be prosecuted like any other criminal.
Based on Rouwendal's description, a police artist produced an image of the bear that mugged him. Police asked anyone seeing the thieving bear to call them immediately and hide all Italian meats, cheeses and breads until the bear can be apprehended. They said the bear is unarmed but is considered dangerous, as shown by the photo of Rouwendal above.
The state Environmental Protection Department so far has classified it as an "incident" and not an attack.