EDISON - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says it is very likely that Pedals the bipedal bear was killed by a hunter during the black bear hunt.
The DEP says a 333-pound male bear with injuries on its front legs was brought in in Rockaway Township. This is consistent with Pedals.
Pedals became famous in New Jersey after video surfaced of the bear walking on its hind legs in Rockaway Township. Animal rights advocates had petitioned the DEP to relocate the injured bear to a sanctuary.
The controversy surrounding the presumed death of Pedals and the New Jersey black bear hunt has prompted one New Jersey lawmaker to call for an end to the hunt.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak says Pedals is a symbol and has named a bill after him. “Pedals’s Law” would outlaw the black bear hunt for five years if passed. It would also require non-lethal methods to control the population.
Many animal activists cheered the senator’s call to end the hunt.
"It’s a cruel trophy hunt. It's simple as that,” says Angi Metler, of the Bear Education and Resource Program. “It doesn't do anything to reduce complaints or incidents with black bears."
The DEP estimates there are more than 3,000 bears in New Jersey. The agency says birth control would not be enough to quell the bear population.
“You're not going to be able to catch enough animals to keep the population from growing,” says NJ Fish and Wildlife’s Dave Chandra. “So to take no action, to not try to control our population, we believe would be pretty irresponsible."
The DEP says the bear population has expanded over the past 20 years and black bears are now in every county in the Garden State.
Hunters were allowed to use bow and arrows and muzzle loader firearms in the October hunt. Officials say 549 bears were killed.
Another hunt is scheduled for December. The bear hunt has taken place annually since 2010.
A New Jersey Senate Committee passed "Pedals's Law" Monday. The bill will head to the full state Senate to be considered.