New Jersey wildlife officials are acknowledging that Pedals, the bear known for walking upright, is probably dead.
State biologists reported that a 333-pound bear taken last Monday to a check station in Pedals' known stomping grounds in Morris County had front paw injuries consistent with those the upright bear appeared to have in videos.
"The injured paws and chest blaze of this particular adult bear brought to Green Pond appear to be consistent with the bear seen walking upright on several videos taken from North Jersey residents over the past two years," said Bob Considine, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection.
"While many have developed an emotional attachment to the upright bear, it is important to recognize that all black bears are wildlife," Considine said. "They are not pets. They are capable of doing damage, even in a compromised state."
Pedals was never tagged by state biologists so there is no way to confirm that the bear brought to the check in station was indeed the Internet ursine sensation. Officials believed he adapted to walking upright due to a birth defect or injury affecting his front paws.
Pedals' supporters have claimed that the hunter who killed him had bragged about hunting the bear for three years. But NJ.Com reports that the state says that hunter, who has been the subject of threats, was not the one who killed the bear believed to be Pedals.
Officials have reported that 549 bears were killed in last week's archery and muzzleloader season. A weeklong firearms only season is set to begin Dec. 5.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak has introduced legislation to ban the black bear hunt for five years, NJ.com reports.