FREDON, N.J. (AP) -- Former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli on Saturday joined opponents of New Jersey's bear hunt who say it is inhumane and blame it for the apparent death of a beloved wild bear that walked upright.
Torricelli said outside a state weigh station that the hunt was immoral.
"They're slaughtering entire families of bears. It's unforgivable," he told NJ.com.
His involvement comes after a City College of New York professor was sentenced to 10 days in jail after his seventh arrest in protesting the hunt. Seventy-two-year-old psychology professor Bill Crain, of Dutchess County, New York, was ordered to the Sussex County Jail beginning Jan. 6.
As of Friday, hunters killed a record 629 bears, up from the previous record of 592 in 2010. The hunt was scheduled to end Saturday, but officials say it will be suspended once the cumulative harvest rate of tagged bears reaches 30 percent.
Officials with the Department of Environmental Protection believe the bipedal bear, known as Pedals, was killed during a hunt in October. The agency released pictures showing the lifeless body of a black bear with injured paws, just like the ones Pedals had, but officials there couldn't confirm the identity because Pedals was never tagged.
Pedals first gained fame after it was spotted in 2014 ambling around neighborhoods and was caught on videos that were posted on social media and played on national television. Animal activists suspected Pedals walked on its hind legs because of injuries to its paws. They doubted Pedals was able to run, climb, defend itself or even eat properly, and they feared it might not survive.
Torricelli, a Democrat, ended a re-election bid in 2002 after an ethics panel admonished him over campaign contributions. A one-time political contributor pleaded guilty to illegally channeling money in 1996 to Torricelli, then a U.S. representative. Torricelli wasn't charged with a crime.