A black bear in Oakridge, New Jersey, was seen around town walking on two legs, mystifying locals. The bear, nicknamed Pedals, has two permanently injured front paws, probably due to a car accident. As a result, he often walks on his hind legs, like a human, instead of all four.
There’s currently a debate going on between the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife officials and the public about whether to bring Pedals in for evaluation. Bear rehabilitation and re-release is difficult and there aren’t many organizations that are able to take all the steps from rehabilitation to release in the wild, but locals and some sanctuary experts argue that Pedals is in danger of losing his life during the hard winter. They say that he seems underweight and will have trouble denning and defending himself against other bears competing for resources. One wildlife sanctuary has volunteered to take Pedals in, and a kickstarter fundraiser has helped raise the money for his enclosure if Fish and Wildlife gives them permission.
Fish and Wildlife specialists hope that Pedals will be able to survive on his own rather than becoming a human-dependent captive bear for the rest of his life. They point out that sedation, capture, transport, examination, and rehabilitation is a very traumatic experience for a wild animal: “Injured wild animals should be given every opportunity to survive on their own in the wild. This bear has survived in the wild for at least one year with its impairment without assistance from people.” They say they’re monitoring Pedals is being monitored closely to make sure he’s okay, and they do plan to intervene if they think his condition is deteriorating.
For now, the most we can do is wish the young bear well this winter.
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