‘Egregious behavior’: Va. work crew threw bear carcass off overpass, near trail, animal rights group says

This dead black bear was found in a plastic bag in Arlington, Virginia. (Courtesy Sonia Nayar)

A work crew in Virginia illegally threw the body of a black bear that had been hit by a car off an overpass, which led to a woman’s gruesome discovery of the carcass Friday, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

A company contracted by the Virginia Department of Transportation has taken responsibility for the improper disposal of the bear’s body, AWLA said in a statement.

“They stated that the bear had been struck by a vehicle on I-66 in Prince William County, and workers transported the bear to Arlington and illegally dumped the bear over an overpass onto the Custis Memorial Trail,” the statement said.

Arlington resident Sonia Nayar said she was taking her 12-year-old son and their dog for a walk on the trail near North Adams Street and Spout Run Parkway, and that her dog was the first to sniff out something was wrong.

“I pulled my dog back and got a little closer, but not too close. And I saw something sticking out of the bag that I could tell was hair and an ear. But at that moment, I was like, ‘hair and ear of what?’” she said.

Nayar ended up calling the police.

The welfare league said the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) notified the AWLA on Monday of how the bear got there.

The welfare league said its working with the DWR to determine if charges will be filed against the contractor for what it called “this egregious behavior.”

“If charges are filed, we are the jurisdiction that said charges would be filed in. If a crime was committed, it has been committed in Arlington County. But we are working with DWR to determine if they want to press charges of any kind,” Chelsea Jones, senior communications specialist with the AWLA, told WTOP.

“We don’t know why this decision was made to dump the bear the way it was,” Jones added.

VDOT told WTOP it is aware of the situation, has standard operating procedures for the removal and disposal of dead animals and expects contractors to follows those procedures.

“We will work collaboratively with DWR and the contractor to make sure appropriate actions are taken,” VDOT said in a statement.

WTOP’s Joshua Barlow and Scott Gelman contributed to this report.

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Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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