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Kayaker encounters large black bear in middle of New York lake

By Ben Hooper
Kayaker encounters large black bear in middle of New York lake
A kayaker in New York state's Hemlock Lake encounters a large black bear out for a swim. Screenshot: Matthew Garrity/Facebook

BRIGHTON, N.Y., July 19 (UPI) -- A kayaker in New York state investigated a strange shape in the middle of Hemlock Lake and ended up paddling next to a massive black bear out for a swim.

Matthew Garrity of Brighton, who posted video of his encounter to Facebook, said he and some friends were taking a break from a day of kayaking at the lake Saturday when he spotted something strange off in the distance.

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"I'm looking around at the beautiful view and I saw something swimming across the lake, but I couldn't identify what this was," he told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Garrity said he decided to paddle out into the lake to determine the identity of the creature, and he could hear its breathing before he could make out its shape.

"I heard it breathing, I realized what it was as soon as I heard this big gasping, grunting sound of it breathing," he said.

The kayaker then discovered the source of the breathing -- a large black bear swimming in the water.

"I just tried to get my kayak drifting at the same speed. I put my paddle down, got my camera out and started taking the video just enough to see the front of my kayak aim towards the front of the bear. I realized I better back up," he said.

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Garrity admitted he probably should have headed back toward shore instead of taking his 14-second video.

"I suppose I didn't flee because once I realized it was a very large black bear, I knew this was a once in a lifetime moment," he wrote in an email to Mashable. "I think my curiosity and my adrenaline got the best of me."

He said the animal definitely took note of his presence.

"The bear definitely noticed me," Garrity wrote. "At one point, not captured on video (because I was paddling at the time rather than holding my phone) he did turn his head and look directly at me for a split second, but he never stopped swimming towards the shore."

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