A bear that walks upright on its two hind legs and has become a social media darling has been seen in New Jersey, wildlife chiefs say.

Bears are often spotted in New Jersey, although not usually on two legs.

Bears are often spotted in New Jersey, although not usually on two legs. Image by Tom Hannigan / CC BY 2.0

Fans of the bipedal bear nicknamed Pedals were concerned when the animal had not been seen for several weeks. Pedals apparently has an injured leg or paw that does not allow it to walk comfortably on all fours, experts say. But officials told NJ.com that a resident saw Pedals in West Milford on December 21 and said the bear appeared to be in good health. The caller estimated Pedals weighed about 350lbs pounds (25 stone).

The bear first gained fame after it was spotted last year ambling around neighbourhoods and was caught on videos that were posted on social media and played on national television. Since then, animal activists have voiced concern that the bear’s health has declined and they fear it might not survive a harsh winter. They also doubt the bear can run, climb or defend itself, or even eat properly.

Supporters hope Pedals can be moved to a sanctuary in New York state, but New Jersey officials have said they will not allow the bear to be transported out of state. They say they want to examine the bear before making any decisions about it, and do not plan to try to capture the animal. “As we’ve been saying all along, the bear seems to be doing fine on its own,” Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said. “This is really good news for the bear and all the people following his travels. This sighting is really encouraging. By virtue of the fact that the bear hasn’t been seen for some time indicates to us that he has been out in the woods foraging. There are plenty of tree nuts available. We now have a basis to determine the bear is OK. He may be heading into his denning period now.”

(Press Association)