Pedals’ slaying creates momentum in New Jersey to ban bear trophy hunting

By on October 19, 2016 with 14 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

With the apparent killing of Pedals last week, and the slaying of more than 500 other black bears in New Jersey, it’s clear that something’s rotten in the Garden State.

In a frenzy of killing the state’s small population of bruins, trophy hunters killed 562 bears during this year’s archery and muzzleloader season. Readers of a New Jersey newspaper saw a tiny cub hoisted by his feet as he was weighed by state officials. A homeowner found that a female bear had died on his lawn overnight, likely slowly and painfully, after being hit by an arrow.

But perhaps most poignantly, a trophy hunter shot a famous, disabled bear, known throughout New Jersey and the world by the name of Pedals. He was dubbed Pedals because he’d managed to find a way to survive with two injured or deformed front legs that inhibited him from walking on all fours. In order to get around, Pedals walked upright on his two back legs. This harmless bear won the admiration and sympathy of millions of people around the world who saw footage of him, taken by members of the community. He looked like a man in a bear suit, showing us — with this unwitting human impersonation — the amazing similarities in height, weight, and posture that we share when a bear stands on his or her hind legs.

It takes a very twisted person to kill an animal like Pedals. In a collective sense, it’s an embarrassment for New Jersey to sanction and organize a bear slaughter of this scale – an almost unrestrained plan developed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and executed by hunters. It is a directive that’s not based on science, but rather one that caters to a few thousand trophy hunters in a state of millions of animal lovers.

The state gave the all-clear to kill mother bears and their dependent cubs. That’s a practice permitted in only one other state: Alaska.

The state also allows baiting, where bears are lured into range by setting out a garbage pile and taking advantage of the animals’ fall feeding regimen that allows them to survive a long winter hibernation. New Jersey is an outlier in this sense also — one of only 13 U.S. states that permit this unsporting practice, which voters in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington have outlawed by citizen initiative.

The state this year allowed an annual kill of nearly a third of the entire state bear population. Serialized from year to year, that’s a prescription for extirpation of New Jersey’s bears.

While baiting creates an easy kill opportunity, it also amounts to a form of supplemental feeding that has the potential to spur reproduction among surviving bears – contradicting and undermining overhyped claims about the need to control the bear population. As a matter of stimulating unwelcome bear behavior, there couldn’t be a worse strategy. Bears habituated to baits move in closer to human settlements, searching for more of the same in trash bins and increasing the likelihood of human-bear conflicts.

Despite claims by DFW officials, the trophy hunting of bears does not increase human safety. This is because trophy hunters generally remove non-problem bears, far from human habitation, in an attempt to acquire an impressive trophy. Apparently in New Jersey, a sensational trophy includes tiny cubs.

Instead of killing random bears not involved in conflicts, community-based education programs that emphasize the benefits of bears, combined with stringent law enforcement, are truly effective at reducing human-bear conflicts. For example, Yosemite National Park recently reported a 92 percent decrease in conflicts by educating the public and by enforcing special codes concerning humans and bears.

We commend the magnificent work of Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, and other legislators for taking a stand for New Jersey’s bruins. In the Assembly, two bills passed out of the environment committee, condemning the bear hunt and removing black bears from the list of game species. Sen. Lesniak, who has an incredible record of advancing animal protection measures, has dubbed his measure “Pedals’ Law.” On Monday, the Senate Economic Growth Committee advanced a bill that would impose a five-year moratorium on the bear hunt while a comprehensive non-lethal bear management program is developed. It bans bear baiting and incorporates requirements for bear-resistant trash management. That bill is expected to come to the floor for a vote in coming weeks.

It’s an appropriate memorial for a killing that shows the utter heartlessness of the trophy hunting lobby. Are no animals off limits? Are all animals just trophies in the waiting? Are there any limits on their conduct? With public opinion behind them, New Jersey lawmakers have all the evidence they need to pass a five-year moratorium. Do it for Pedals.

P.S. If you are from New Jersey, please ask your Senator and two Assembly members (find them here) to support humane legislation and end New Jersey’s extreme and unscientific bear hunt.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Fran Leard says:

    What a horrible shame that this precious bear had to be slaughtered by some sick coward. I hope they find this low life and do to him what he did to this bear. Our beautiful animals have no rights or laws to protect them. When does it end?

    I’m sure the people in the area are outraged and I hope justice is served for this
    deliberate and disgusting killing. It breaks my heart and I will call Gov. Christie to put a stop to this.

  2. Lynn says:

    Wow, killing baby bears, what a great hunter you must be.This is so sicking!
    Please regain some sense of humanity and sop this horrible practice.

  3. KIKUE NISHIO says:

    Bear With LOVE&PEACE

  4. Khrista says:

    Save these bears

  5. Carol beauparlant says:

    Something rotten in New Jersey? His name is Christie!! The fish rots from the head down!!!!!!
    Shameful for New Jersey!!!!

  6. Lewis Goldberg says:

    This was a disgusting massacre. Killing baby cubs. What kind of lowlife would do that? And poor PEDALS who was an inspiration and had a strong will to live was stalked by a monster who wanted him as a trophy. Blame that dictator of Nj Governor and his administration. They turned Nj state parks into a chamber of horrors

  7. suzanne says:

    Wow, baby bears strung up, baited, pedals killed….NJ got some karma coming after this bloodbath. Humans never seem to figure out that these are Gods fuzzy creatures & to kill them for sport is wrong on every level….no wonder we have some very negative vibrations surrounding our planet right now with all the suffering man causes not only the animals we share the planet with but also each other. No one associated with Chris Christi will get my vote this Nov. & we can only hope some compassion prevails over NJ & this stops but too late for the mothers who cubs were savagely killed in front of them & for Pedals just like Cecil the lion & Romeo the wolf, never trust man! Can’t have anything unique, & beautiful on this planet with man here.

  8. Barbara Peterson says:

    Shame on my cruel state of New Jersey. I am sick over this massacre. I cannot comprehend the mindset and barren hearts of the killers, the people who find joy in such cruelty. When I first heard about sweet Pedals last year, I made several phone calls to the bear groups and then to NJFWS to make sure Pedals was being “looked after”. I was so taken by his sweet demeanor and human-like qualities and now I am at a loss for how blantantly NJ failed him and how NJ is now protecting the privacy of the “man” who killed him. This was a PUBLIC hunt on public property. It is within MY right to tell the killer exactly how I feel about what he has done at a PUBLIC “event” paid for partially with my taxpayer money, to our sweet and special and tough bear named Pedals.

  9. Barbara Peterson says:

    Also, thank you, Wayne Pacelle, for this intelligent and articulate blog post and to the Humane Society for being on the right side of decency and kindness.

  10. Arlene Cohen says:

    It’s mindboggling to me that anyone would want to murder a defenseless animal for fun and call it a sport named “hunting.” I think we should stop using that term and call it what it is — murder. How sick can people be? I believe that animals have as much right to life as we do. Who are we to think we have the right to do anything we choose with animals?

  11. Christina says:

    Shame on Christie! Hunting any bear but especially a mother and cubs is vicious and immoral.?

  12. profesorjoe says:

    Wayne, A wounded bear showed up in a women’s backyard in Sussex. She had to listen to its moans all night until the hunter showed up to kill it with 3 shots!!! Another one found on a lawn was in the vicinity of The Wallkill Wildlife Refuge, A Federal Area. Can you please find out why this place is desiginated a REFUGE when it allows Bear, deer, Turkey and even Woodcock hunting as well as hunting from Car windows in a designated area. The director accepts donations from various hunting groups. This Federal land should NOT have Refuge designation?? Please get on top of this.

  13. Doris Muller says:

    I, too, mourn the death of Pedals and also the deaths of all the other innocent bears who were used as incentives to give animal serial killers an opportunity to engage in the joy of killing and to get a high from stalking, baiting, luring, and slaughtering living beings.

    Yes, a defenseless, much loved bear was one of the victims of a dangerous human predator, but the scariest issue with this whole massacre is that it is legal for dangerous human predators to engage in mass massacre for the joy of doing so.

    Animals are non-human species who share the planet. They exist for their own reasons. They do not belong to humans to be exploited for profit or to be killed for joy. Why then, do some arrogant humans appoint themselves lords over other species and decide that they have the right to designate themselves as “owners” with rights to engage in or organize their deaths for man-made ignorant reasons? And government entities should not support humans in their desire to engage their killing addiction. *ALL* LIVES MATTER!

  14. Jan says:

    New Jersey. Shame on you for your dealings on this bear issue. I will try to avoid visiting your area.

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