HEARTLAND VILLAGE — A bear cub was found dead in a Staten Island parking lot Monday morning, police said.
The black bear was discovered around 7 a.m. at 77 Richmond Hill Rd. — a parking lot for a strip mall that’s home to a dollar store, nail salon and other businesses.
Video from the scene showed the bear cub on its back with a large gash on one side. It remained unclear how the bear died or ended up in the parking lot.
Authorities are now investigating how the male cub even wound up on the island, which has no known black bear population. The case itself has many locals churning out theories of their own.
“Either it swam across the bridge or walked across the bridge or somebody physically found it dead or attacked it and then panicked,” resident Eddie Rodriguez told PIX11. “They probably live in this neighborhood and they dumped it.”
Another resident, Donald Przybyazewski, had another theory.
“Somebody might’ve had it as a pet,” he said. “Or they killed it somewhere else and dropped it here or they wanted to skin it maybe?”
What is certain is that the young bear was not fully grown.
Cubs typically stick by their mothers as they’re reliant on her protection for at least 18 months, according to Kelly Simonetti, director at Antler Ridge sanctuary in Warren County, NJ.
For nearly two decades, Simonetti and her staff have been rescuing and rehabilitating mammals across the state including orphaned cubs.
“If the mom was injured or hit by a car or incapacitated in some way, shape or form, the baby would’ve stayed with the mom,” Simonetti said. “And if someone wanted to do something terrible, [the cub] obviously would have been an easy target.”
Based on the data, Simonetti believes the bear’s origins are either nearby New Jersey or Pennsylvania where it was most likely found and killed.
“Who knows why they would dump it or do something like that,” she said. “It’s absolutely tragic.”
The carcass, which is now in the possession of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, was transported to a lab where it will undergo a necropsy to determine the cause of death.