Beloved bear Pedals, known to many for walking upright and roaming around the suburbs of New Jersey, was allegedly killed last week by a hunter.
Pedals’ death is believed to have occurred in the state’s first hunting season since 1960s, as part of which hunters were allowed to kill bears with bow and arrow.
In 2014, residents in Oak Ridge, New Jersey, noticed a bear walking around neighborhoods on its hind legs. While people believed it to be a man wearing a bear suit at first, wildlife experts debunked the belief and confirmed the animal’s authenticity. It was speculated that wounds and injuries to the bear’s front paws, caused perhaps by a car that hit him, may have forced him to walk on his hind legs.
An online community was started by Pedals’ supporters to spread awareness about the animal and promote his well-being. The Facebook group, which has as many as 21,000 followers, posted a message about the sad death of the beloved bear on Friday.
“It is with deep sorrow that I am posting this today,” the Facebook post said. The message has been deleted afterwards.
The group had suggested the possibility of Pedals’ death in one of its posts, saying the animal could have been a victim of the last week’s hunting season for black bears. However, as reported by the Washington Post, New Jersey Fish and Wildlife officials have not issued a confirmation whether Pedals was killed in the hunt.
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An online protest, calling for “swift and just action be taken against those responsible for the unjustified and unethical killing of Pedals,” has been organized by Facebook group “Stop The Florida Bear Hunt.”
Bob Considine, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, said a dead bear with injuries was brought in to the check station last week. However, the department noted in a statement, there was “no way of verifying the identity of any bear that has not been previously tagged or had a DNA sample previously taken.”
Pedals’ death has been met with public outrage.
According to the New York Times, an effort had been made previously to relocate the bear to a wildlife preserve in New York but was unsuccessful. As part of the effort, more than $22,000 had been raised through a Go Fund Me page. A petition, calling for officials to authorize the relocation, had received 300,000 signatures.