NEW JERSEY — Internet sensation and beloved bipedal bear Pedals is said to be dead, according to a statement posted on the Pedals The Injured Bipedal Bear Facebook page.
It was the first bear hunt with arrows in New Jersey in the past 40 years, and it was on the very first day of the hunt that it is believed that pedals, the upright bear, was killed by an archer's arrow.
"Right now, we are really, really upset," said Lisa Rose-Rublack, an animal rescue advocate, who was close to tears as she told PIX11 News that beloved Pedals was most likely dead.
The black bear with a missing right paw and an injured left paw who walked upright and roamed Oak Ridge and Rockaway for years had been the center of a Facebook and GoFundMe campaign to place the maimed bear in an upstate sanctuary for injured animals.
However, the group posted a sad announcement Friday about the bear's death after a number of people bombarded the page asking about Pedals' rumored fate.
"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 statement read.
"It's the good hunters who told us what transpired," Rose-Rublack told PIX11 News. "It's the ones who decided they had to hunt the handicapped bear. This guy bragged that he was looking for pedals for three years."
According to the statement, Pedals' body was brought to the Green Pond hunting station Monday where he was weighed and two biologists confirmed it was "the bi-pedal" bear, meaning they had allegedly identified him as the beloved bear.
However, officials from the New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection said it's impossible to definitively determine the demise of Pedals.
"We don't have the scientific information on the front end," Robert Geist, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, told PIX11 News, "to conclusively determine if it was Pedals who was killed."
Pedals became an internet sensation after sporadic videos surfaced over the past year of the bear walking upright on his hind legs in areas of Northern New Jersey.
He was most recently seen in June.
In the Rockaway neighborhood where bears have been frequently spotted, there was sadness for the loss of Pedals, combined with an understanding of the need to cut down on the growing bear population.
"I have to worry about people when I walk my little guy around the block and I have a bear chase me," Phillip Bazydlo, a Rockaway resident, told PIX11 News. "I think they have to be cut down. I don't like killing animals, but we have to protect people more than animals."
A GoFundMe page was created to help the Pedals and set up a protective enclosure. While it raised thousands of dollars over its proposed goal, the bear was never captured and put into a protective area.
The bear hunt with bows and arrows ends Saturday night at 9 p.m. So far, 432 bears have been killed in the hunt.AlertMe