A New Jersey bear that charmed internet users with the ability to walk upright on his rear legs is believed to have been killed by a hunter, according to activists.
The upstanding bear, named Pedals, has been filmed by residents strolling nonchalantly through their yards since 2014, with one viral video drawing hundreds of thousands of views this summer.
Officials believed Pedals walked upright due to an injury to one of the bear’s front paws, mostly likely by a vehicle.
But last week was hunting season in New Jersey, with registered hunters allowed to target black bears with rifles. For the first time since the 1960s, hunters were also permitted to use bows and arrows.
The six days of hunting were authorized by the state's Department of Environmental Protection as part of efforts to "achieve [a] goal of a healthy and sustainable bear population," according to David Chanda, the director of the division of fish and wildlife.
Some 487 bears were killed in the hunt, according to the New York Times, with Pedals reportedly among them.
"PEDALS IS DEAD," read a statement on Friday from a Facebook page that had been dedicated to Pedals. "The hunter who has wanted him dead for nearly 3 years had the satisfaction of putting an arrow through him, bragging at the station."
In a statement, New Jersey environment officials said they had no way of verifying whether Pedals was among the bears killed.
"While the Division [of Fish and Wildlife] appreciates the concern for the bear, it has no way of verifying the identity of any bear that has not been previously tagged or had a DNA sample previously taken," the statement read.
"Without any prior scientific data taken from a bear, it is not possible to verify the identity of a bear that has been harvested."