A starving and sick bear has been euthanized in Colorado after wild officials discovered it was suffering from a "severe intestinal blockage" due to eating a huge amount of human trash.
The 181-kilogram (400-pound) male black bear was discovered on the afternoon of Saturday, September 9 near the river trail in Telluride, Colorado.
After receiving reports of a sick bear, wildlife officials headed to the area and found the individual in a sorry state. The bear had puffy eyes, as well as discharge coming from its eyes and mouth. Camera footage from close-by also showed the bear was walking in a humped position and was reluctant to move, suggesting it was in severe pain.
The bear was well known to authorities. It had been “hazed away” from numerous public spaces by law enforcement in the past and even broke into someone’s home earlier this summer.
Based on its health and behavior, Colorado Parks & Wildlife took the tough decision to euthanize the bear later that evening.
“The bear could not digest food and was very sick,” Rachel Sralla, an Area Wildlife Manager at Colorado Parks & Wildlife, said in a statement.
“We could not leave a sick bear like this knowing it was suffering and struggling to survive. When you have a very fat 400-pound bear, it will take it ages to starve to death. That’s a horrific way to die, decaying from the inside out for that long. As officers, we had to make an unfavorable call. It’s a call we wish we never had to make,” added Sralla.
The following morning, officers from Colorado Parks & Wildlife carried out a full necropsy of the bear, revealing its large intestines had very little food in them as its digestive tract was plugged with trash.
“The removal of the stomach and intestines showed that the bear was starving due to a plug of paper towels, disinfectant wipes, napkins, parts of plastic sacks and wax paper food wrappers in the pylorus,” said Mark Caddy, Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s District Wildlife Manager.
“This plug was accompanied by French fries, green beans, onions and peanuts. The small and large intestines were empty of matter. The intestines were enlarged due to bacteria in the beginning stages of decomposition, but we opened them up in several locations and found no digested food matter,” Caddy explained.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife shared information about this unfortunate bear to remind people to secure their trash cans properly if they live in areas shared by bears and other dangerous wildlife. In Telluride, the law states that refuse needs to be stored in animal-resistant containers, sealed with a lockable reinforced lid and a two-latch locking mechanism.
Bears are often drawn into areas where humans live due to the smell of trash. Wildlife officials can be forced to euthanize animals that repeatedly raid trash cans and homes for food as it shows they have associated humans with food, which increases the risk of conflict and tragic stories such as this.
“It all comes back to trash, which we talk about too often when it comes to bear conflicts in Colorado. The reason we had to put this bear down was to end its suffering that was caused by eating indigestible trash,” added Sralla.