Bear Mystery

Florence Slatkin walking her dog, Paco, on Tuesday next to the spot where she and a friend discovered a dead bear in Central Park. Ms. Slatkin said the bear’s head was resting on a fallen bike. Credit Richard Drew/Associated Press

Alert reader Tia in Manhattan writes:

Very excited for your new podcast.  Are you following the Central Park Bear Mystery?

Tia, thanks for writing.  Of course I am.

So, a dead bear was found in Central Park.  Here are the facts we know, all from the NY Times:

  • The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation announced that the results of a necropsy showed that the cause of death was “blunt force injuries consistent with a motor vehicle collision.”
  • After revealing the results of the necropsy, Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the state conservation department, said that the agency still did not know where the bear had come from, only that it was “likely not the park.”
  • The Central Park Conservancy, which runs Central Park and provided preliminary information on Monday, had nothing to add on Tuesday. And a spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo, said it was no longer involved and did not wish to comment.
  • The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which has been dealing with a surging black bear population, had nothing to say.
  • Calls were made to a retired Bronx homicide commander, Vernon Gerberth. “It wouldn’t be a police matter,” he said, “unless the bear was killed by a person, or if somebody was keeping it as a pet and brought it to the park. People are crazy.”
  • Dr. Lana Ciarniello, a bear expert in Canada, said that most bear experts in the United States were attending a conference in Greece and would be hard to reach for comment. She could not make the trip, so she was able to offer her thoughts on the mystery.
  • She also said that the bear’s gender might have some relevance: “From a biological standpoint, it’s highly unusual for a female bear cub to be so far from her mother. Mother bears make male bear cubs disperse far from her home range to prevent inbreeding, so it would be less unusual if this were a male bear cub.”
  • While there was a bear foot found on a lawn in Queens in 2011, bears have not regularly been seen in New York City for decades.
  • An entry in the 1916 edition of Valentine’s Manual of Old New York contains an account of bear hunting on Pearl Street from 1678.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys The Great Debates!  Available here:




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