NEW YORK (Reuters) – The body of a black bear cub was found in the bushes of New York City’s Central Park on Monday and police have launched a criminal investigation into the death, park officials said.
An early morning dog-walker spotted the lifeless young bear near an exit of the park leading to Manhattan’s affluent Upper West Side and alerted a Central Park Conservancy worker, spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaledin said.
“We are distraught and alarmed any time wildlife is injured,” Kaledin said on behalf of the conservancy.
It’s not clear how the animal ended up in the park, which does not keep black bears at its zoo, or how it died, Kaledin said.
WCBS Radio reported signs of trauma on the animal’s body, which measured about 3 feet long. WCBS Radio said no area zoos have reported a missing bear.
Foul play is suspected in the case, Kaledin added. She referred any additional questions to the New York Police Department.
Police investigators were still assessing the scene on Monday afternoon and determining where the cub would be transported to, a police spokeswoman said.
Police had not decided whether a necropsy would be performed, she said. No arrests have been made.
Black bears are not native to New York City, but they are common in wooded areas of nearby New Jersey, where they have been spotted in all of the state’s 21 counties.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Walsh)