OAK RIDGE, N.J. — A black bear that became a media sensation because of a condition that forced it to walk upright on his back legs was killed by a hunter in New Jersey, animal activists claim.
Videos of Pedals strolling through neighborhoods in Oak Ridge have been going viral since 2014.
Experts speculated the bear’s front legs might have been injured and he most likely “got hit by a car.”
In October, New Jersey allowed hunters to kill bears with a bow and arrow for a five-day period. This was the first legal bow-and-arrow hunt in New Jersey since the 1960s.
Pedals is believed to be one of 487 bears killed in those five days, the New York Times reported. New Jersey Fish and Wildlife officials have not confirmed whether Pedals was killed in the hunt.
“While the Division appreciates the concern for the bear, it has no way of verifying the identity of any bear that has not been previously tagged or had a DNA sample previously taken,” the department said in a statement.
However, according to the Times, officials will release a photo of a “bear with visible injuries” for comparison to photos of Pedals.
About six months ago, activists set up a GoFundMe page to get help for Pedals. It raised more than $22,000.
Activists also established an online petition asking state officials to move Pedals to a “beautiful bear sanctuary in upstate NY.” The petition had more than 310,000 signatures, including dozens added after reports of Pedal’s death.
“I never knew about this sweet bear till now. To hear of the horrific hunt and that the sweet bear pedals might be gone breaks my heart,” a person from Texas posted.
“The person who killed Pedals should be in prison,” wrote Ann S. from Missouri.
“The community should have moved this animal somewhere else where it would have been protected. I hope Pedals’ death is not in vain,” someone in North Carolina wrote.