NEW YORK (AP) — A bear cub found dead under a bush in Central Park likely was hit by a motor vehicle and wasn't the victim of animal cruelty as was first suspected, state wildlife officials said Tuesday.
The lifeless black cub was spotted Monday by two women walking their dogs. There were signs of trauma to the cub's body, which authorities said may have been dumped there.
One of the women, Florence Slatkin, said she and a friend were leaving the park when her friend's terrier spotted something near a bicycle lying on the ground.
As they got closer, they realized it was a small bear "with its mouth wide open and scratches on the side," Slatkin said, adding that the cub's head lay on top of a bicycle wheel.
"It was terrible, and it was the strangest thing," she said. "Why was the bike there?"
The women notified a Central Park Conservancy employee.
After the lab tests performed in partnership with Cornell University, the Wildlife Health Unit of the state Department of Environmental Conservation determined the cause of death was blunt trauma consistent with a vehicle crash.
Wildlife experts said the cub was a female, about 6 months old and weighing 44 pounds.
Authorities don't know how the bear ended up in Central Park since bears are not among the park's known wildlife population.
The case remains an open DEC investigation. Environmental Conservation law violations include the illegal possession, transport and disposal of an untagged bear.