A black bear that first gained local fame in Northern New Jersey last year when it was captured on video and seen by residents standing upright and ambling around neighborhoods on two feet has animal activists and the state game agency at odds over the bruin’s welfare.
Activists want the bear captured and placed in a sanctuary for protection as winter approaches, but biologists with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife say the animal is capable of, uh, standing on its own two feet, as it were.
The bipedal bear adapted to the upright mode of mobility apparently due to an injury to its front paws or legs, wildlife authorities speculate.
In response to increased pressure from activists and concerned citizens, DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife issued a statement last week, suggesting it would not actively attempt to capture the upstanding bruin.
“The Division understands that many people are concerned about the bear’s well-being. However, in the professional judgment of Division experts and biologists, wild bears should not live in captivity,” the statement read. “Black bears are very adaptable animals. The fact that this bear made it through last year’s harsh winter is a strong indicator of its ability to survive without human intervention. In fact, many bears in northern New Jersey have survived collisions and have adapted to life with their injuries. They are able to survive on natural foods within the reach of the ground.”
Undeterred, the activists have vowed to continue their effort to have the bear captured and relocated in a sanctuary, delivering petitions to the New Jersey Statehouse and the state environmental offices this week. They claim more than 290,000 people have signed the petitions in support of the bear, which has been given the name, “Pedals.”
The Facebook page, “Help Save Pedals the Bear,” has nearly 10,000 “likes.”
What do you think? Who’s got it right, the activists or the state wildlife agency?