Starving Bear Euthanized: In a devastating turn of events, wildlife officials in Colorado were compelled to euthanize a sick bear that fell victim to a “severe intestinal blockage” caused by consuming human trash.
The bear was discovered near Telluride’s river trail on September 9, prompting a necropsy the following day. “The bear was unable to digest food and was in a very unhealthy state,” stated Rachel Sralla, Colorado Park and Wildlife (CPW) area manager. “Once again, trash is at the center of this issue, which we unfortunately encounter all too frequently in bear conflicts across Colorado. We made the difficult decision to end the bear’s suffering, which was a direct result of ingesting non-digestible trash.”
Officials described the 400-pound bear as exhibiting feverish behavior, swollen eyes, and discharge from its eyes and mouth. It displayed signs of severe abdominal pain, walking with a hunched posture and appearing reluctant to move.
The bear was a familiar presence in the area and had previously been involved in a home intrusion during the summer. Although it had previously responded to hazing techniques aimed at discouraging undesirable behavior in wildlife, the bear no longer reacted when confronted by officials. Hazing methods can involve loud noises, flashing lights, splashing water, and other deterrents, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Considering the bear’s behavior and condition, CPW decided to euthanize the animal to ensure human health and safety and to prevent further suffering,” the statement explained.
During the necropsy, conducted the following morning, officers were shocked by the findings. “The removal of the stomach and intestines revealed that the bear was starving due to a blockage caused by paper towels, disinfectant wipes, napkins, parts of plastic bags, and wax paper food wrappers in the pylorus,” said Mark Caddy, CPW district wildlife manager.
“Accompanying the blockage were french fries, green beans, onions, and peanuts. The small and large intestines were devoid of any matter. Although the intestines were enlarged due to bacteria in the early stages of decomposition, we examined them in several locations and found no evidence of digested food.”
Colorado is home to an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 black bears. While naturally shy and cautious around humans, they are drawn to the scent of human food and trash, which can lead to unfortunate outcomes.
This incident serves as an urgent reminder to residents to secure their trash and keep it out of reach of hungry bears. “When you have a 400-pound bear that is extremely emaciated, it would take an agonizingly long time for it to starve to death,” Sralla emphasized. “That’s a horrific way to die, decaying from within for such an extended period. As officers, we faced an agonizing decision. It’s a decision we wish we never had to make. But we could not allow a suffering bear like this to endure and struggle for survival.”