October 14, 2016
Pedals, the bear prominent in New Jersey for walking on two feet, is believed to have been killed this week during the start of the state's expanded bear hunting season.
During the past three years, the black bear seen walking upright because of injuries to his front limbs has become a celebrity in New Jersey, and a series of videotaped sightings have gone viral online.
Many have speculated Pedals originally was hurt in a car accident and survived as a result of his resilience. He adapted to the loss of part of his front right leg and another wound to his left front paw by learning to walk on two feet.
A post Thursday to a Facebook page dedicated to Pedals claims the bear was killed by a hunter who had been plotting to take him down.
The author of the post characterizes Pedals' death as needless and takes a harsh stance against New Jersey wildlife officials for allowing this to happen.
PEDALS IS DEAD. The hunter who has wanted him dead for nearly 3 years had the satisfaction of putting an arrow through him, bragging at the station. The very place where they weighed him, examined his legs, confirmed it was "the bi-pedal". Where there were two biologists on hand taking many many pictures. PEDALS IS DEAD.
For the hundreds and thousands of animals lovers who were following his story, I am sorry that we have this sad news to bring to you. PEDALS is at peace now because his beautiful soul left his body when he was killed. The NJDEP and F&W really don't have a heart. They let this happen. They could have been the good guys by helping him to get to sanctuary. Instead they did nothing. They ignored the calls when there were real time sightings, only to call back days later to ask where he was. They have tip toed around this whole thing with lame statements that were very open ended, they have lied. Most recently they said they would not be able to tell if it was him on their "public statement" and it took them two days to come up with this statement. This can not be fixed but perhaps we can make a change to how wildlife is treated in this state. You can voice your opinions by emailing and cc'g each one of these people:
DEP Commissioner, Bob Martin - email@example.com
Deputy Commissioner David Glass - firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Officer Larry Hajna - email@example.com
Director of F&W Dave Chanda - firstname.lastname@example.org
general email address email@example.com
and lastly, place a call to Governor Christie's office 609-292-6000 and ask to speak to an aide. Tell them politely what has happened and what they should have done and what they could possibly do in your opinion.
Several North Jersey communities, including Oak Ridge and West Milford, rallied to convince state officials to place Pedals in a sanctuary, like the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, New York. A GoFundMe page supporting the initiative raised upwards of $22,000 to build an enclosure for the bear.
In July, Woodlands Wildlife Refuge director Tracy Leaver argued Pedals was better off in the wild because he had already proven he could successfully survive through several trying winters. To put him in an enclosure, she said, would amount to "imprisoning" him. The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife previously issued a statement to the same effect, cautioning that Pedals might not recover from tranquilization.
The bear was last seen June 20 by Oak Ridge resident Joey Esposito, who uploaded a video of the encounter on Facebook and YouTube.
Prior to 2003, bear hunting had been banned in New Jersey for 30 years. The state resumed the annual hunt in 2010.
In the end, it appears that Pedals' greatest threat to life was mankind. It's an eternal narrative and a devastating blow to many animal rights activists who have argued that New Jersey's expansion of bear hunting season, backed by Gov. Christie, is a cruel and unnecessary encroachment on the wilderness.