By PHILLIP BANTZ
The Keene Sentinel: May 27, 2009
A hungry young black bear ripped open a homeless man’s tent Tuesday and chased him through the woods in Keene, according to wildlife officials.
The local man, identified as Dave Kolek, was not injured during the incident. Kolek wears tattered clothing, has a thick beard and long hair and is known by an array of nicknames, including “Tarzan” and “Jumanji.”
The bear tore open Kolek’s tent, which was located in a wooded area near the intersection of Main Street and Route 101, shortly after 10:30 a.m., N.H. Fish and Game Officer Josiah Towne said.
The bear was going after raisins and other food that Kolek was storing inside the tent, Towne said.
“He was an easy target for the bear because he had food down there that was easily accessible to the bear,” Towne said. “This time of year, they’re coming out for food and they’re hungry.”
Kolek attempted to fight off the bear with a long-handled shovel, and the bear chased him through the woods to the edge of Route 101, Towne said. The bear then turned and went back to Kolek’s tent, he said.
Kolek was still clutching the shovel when he met with Towne on the side of the road and told him about his encounter with the bear.
“I went back down into the woods and the bear was still milling around the tent and I chased it off into the woods. He came back a second time and I chased him off again,” Towne said. “You just make loud noises and try to scare it off. They’re usually more afraid of you than you are of them.”
Before the bear turned up at the campsite, it was spotted moving across lawns and rummaging through bird feeders and trash cans in downtown Keene in the areas of Colby and South streets.
Ted W. Walski, a regional wildlife biologist for Fish and Game, said the bear is about 16 months old and weighs at least 100 pounds. The bear has blue tags on each of its ears, but no radio collar that would indicate that it was under study, Walski said.
Blue tags are used by the University of Massachusetts and Fish and Game to keep track of the bears in the area, he said.
“This bear could just be doing his own thing, making a big loop, because these young males wander many, many miles when looking for a home range,” Walski said. “They’ll wander hundreds of miles over several months.”
Attempts to contact Kolek for comment on his run-in with the bear were unsuccessful. Wildlife officials said he packed up his belongings and headed to another campsite after the incident.
Police and other agencies have repeatedly offered to find Kolek shelter and give him a cell phone so he could call 911 if he had an emergency, but he has turned them down, Keene police Lt. Jay U. Duguay said.
“He’s very content with his life,” he said. “We have officers who still continue to check on him, though, just in case something changes.”