A group supporting Pedals, New Jersey's famous upright-walking bear, says that the animal was killed during this week's hunt.
In a post to the "Pedals The Injured Bipedal Bear" Facebook page Friday morning, supporters said that a hunter fatally shot the bear with an arrow and bragged about wanting the animal dead for nearly three years. The animal was taken to the Greenpond check station where observers "confirmed it was 'the bi-pedal,'" the group said.
"For the hundreds and thousands of animals lovers who were following his story, I am sorry that we have this sad news to bring to you," supporters said in the post. "PEDALS is at peace now because his beautiful soul left his body when he was killed."
Fears began to rise on Thursday that the bear, which has an injured leg or paw that doesn't allow it to walk comfortably on all four paws, had been killed in the state's annual hunt. The hunt is aimed at culling black bear populations after increasing interaction between the animals and humans.
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife officials said in a statement Thursday that it had no way of verifying the identity of any bear that had not been previously tagged or had a DNA samples collected. It said that multiple bears had been oveserved at different check stations with injured and missing limbs, so it couldn't verify that any of the animals killed during the hunt was Pedals.
State officials didn't have any update on the bear Friday.
Pedals was a familiar site in parts of central New Jersey, and the animal was often seen stomping through backyards and peering into mailboxes at the end of cul-de-sacs. The bear became a social media sensation after it was first spotted more than a year ago.
Supporters had long advocated for Pedals to be placed in a sanctuary in New York state, but New Jersey officials have said they would not allow the bear to be captured and transferred to the facility.