A New Jersey hunter has filed a lawsuit against people he alleges defamed him on social media by wrongly claiming that he killed Pedals the bipedal black bear.
John H. DeFilippo filed the suit in Morris County Superior Court this month, claiming that six people defamed and libeled him in Facebook posts about the bear's death and in comments on online news stories, NJ.com reports.
"There is no such thing as a constitutional right to make false statements about others," Wolfgang Robinson, the hunter's attorney, told the news outlet. "The defendants that have been named in this lawsuit falsely stated that my client harvested Pedals the Bear. He did not."
The state Department of Environmental Protection has said a bear with injuries consistent with Pedals' was killed in the hunt but it is impossible to definitively say that it was Pedals because he had never been tagged.
The department has not publicly named the person who harvested the bear. Another man was also identified online as the hunter who killed Pedals; that man also said he received threats but did not kill the animal.
DeFilippo's suit claims the defendants, who are from Lake Hopatong, Stanhope and Oakland, all in New Jersey,, and from Florida and Massachusetts, called him a "bear murderer" and posted pictures of his home and information about his work and family on Facebook, according to NJ.com.