Back in August of 2014, we brought you the story of a bear spotted in New Jersey suburbs walking on two legs while searching for easy food in garbage cans. “Pedals” the bear had a severely injured front paw and had adapted a quite adequate bipedal gate. Pedals reappeared in October 2015 and several people collected funds to move him to a wildlife sanctuary as it was assumed it was not easy for the bear to survive. The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife rejected the proposal to tranquilize and put the bear into captivity, preferring to take the approach that the bear live out its existence in the wild, hardship or not.
It’s a year later and at the end of this week’s black bear season, rumors circulated that Pedals had been killed in the hunt. The NJ wildlife department was deluged with calls about it and provided a statement saying that they had no way of verifying that the exact bear had been harvested and noted “multiple bears [were] observed at different check stations with injured or missing limbs.”
Apparent confirmation was released on Pedals facebook page that the bear was killed by a bow hunter who had been deliberately trying to take him for years.
There are many hunters who feel Pedals should have been taken to sanctuary, many who felt he should have amnesty from the hunt, many who would never think to kill him and many who saw first hand when he was brought in to Greenpond station on Monday. These people were kind enough to share details with us.
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.
This page had previously included pleas by many for hunters to honor Pedals’ persistency for existence and have some compassion. They concluded by listing the names and contact info of state officials for concerned citizens to voice their opinion on what could have been done and ask that this situation not re-occur.
While our original story focused on the fact that an upright bear could concievably be responsible for reports of Bigfoot, this story has turned into something totally different. In it, we see people applying human emotion to animals, making several unsupported assumptions, and deciding what is best for a wild animal regardless of other’s rights and what is actually best for the bear population. The story makes me sad too, and I do wish that Pedals had made it to that sanctuary. But, the truth is that black bear populations are booming and they inhabit the same area as humans creating a potential for damage to property, and injury and death to both bears and humans. We must understand what it means to co-exist with large, dangerous animals. To make Pedals out to be a big Teddy bear is an egregious error. To make concessions to co-exist with wildlife is reasonable but requires expertise from wildlife biologists and some difficult decisions. With increasing confrontations with bears, wolves and mountain lions, all of which can be dangerous to humans, we must become educated in aspects of the problem, using facts and reasoning, to make informed, not emotional, decisions about wildlife management.
RIP, Pedals. I think you taught us several lessons.
Thanks to Ron Bolton for the story tip.