Famous Bipedal Bear Among The Hundreds Killed In Annual NJ Bear Hunt
Pedals made a name for himself in 2014 for his unusual ability to walk upright like a human. He appeared in a New Jersey neighborhood, and after the initial shock of seeing a bear walking around like a person, they began to celebrate the strange bear. It turned out that one of Pedal’s front legs was deformed, preventing him from comfortably moving around on all fours. His calm demeanor and strange behavior endeared him to the town, and to wildlife enthusiasts around the world.
A Facebook page was set up soon after his story spread, called Pedals The Injured Bipedal Bear (which boasted more than 20,000 fans until it was deactivated this week), where many people clamored for Pedals to be relocated to a sanctuary due to his injury, but wildlife officials decided to let Pedals be.
Sadly, this turned out to be a bad decision, as Pedals was one of the bears that was killed during this years bear hunt in New Jersey. Since 2010, the state has held an annual bear hunt, and this year, it was expanded for the first time.
Activists quickly identified Pedals from a Facebook post, reportedly posted by the hunter that shot him. The hunter was ecstatic about his kill, claiming that he had “wanted him [Pedals] dead for nearly 3 years” and bragged about the kill, according to NPR. The post was quickly removed due to massive backlash.
Those that had fought for Pedal’s safety, which included a petition to move him to a sanctuary that ended with over 300,000 signatures, and a GoFundMe page that reached more than $20,000, were heartbroken by the killing. Given the hard work that was put into saving Pedals, the states callous reaction is even more galling.
“We wanted Pedals to go to a sanctuary to live the rest of his life without the threat of a hunt looming over him because someone wanted to pop him off because he was an internet sensation,” said Angi Metler, director of the Bear Education and Resource Program.
At first, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection declined to comment on the murder. NJDEP spokesman Bob Considine made a statement, claiming that there was “no way of verifying the identity of any bear that has not been previously tagged or had a DNA sample previously taken.”
Considine continued his defense of the hunt, “While many have developed an emotional attachment to the upright bear, it is important to recognise that all black bears are wildlife. They are not pets. They are capable of doing damage, even in a compromised state. Additionally, there is no practical way to protect any single bear out of the estimated 3,000 bears roaming wild in bear country.”
Although it’s sadly too late to bring Pedals to safety, many people have come up with a new mission: ending the bear hunts. The state senator is pushing a bill that would ban the black bear hunting season and replace it with a nonlethal population control system.
A total of 562 bears were killed in this year’s hunt, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife division.