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Starving bear euthanized, intestines blocked with human trash

The bear was acting sick, and its intestines were found to be blocked from trash, according to Colorado wildlife officials.
Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
The bear's intestines were blocked after it ate human trash that contained paper towels and disinfecting wipes.

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) humanely euthanized a sick black bear Saturday night in Telluride, and it was later found that the male bear was suffering from intestinal blockage after consuming human trash.

“The bear could not digest food and was very sick,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Rachel Sralla. “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.”

CPW got the report Saturday of an injured or sick bear near the river trail in Telluride. The bear acted feverish and had puffy eyes, as well as discharge coming from its mouth and eyes, according to CPW.

RELATED: 1 bear euthanized, another relocated in Boulder

When reviewing video taken by a resident, CPW officers determined that the bear most likely had abdominal pain. The bear had a humped position while walking and was reluctant to move, CPW said.

Based on the bear's behavior and condition, CPW officers made the decision to euthanize the bear that evening.

“We could not leave a sick bear like this knowing it was suffering and struggling to survive,” Sralla said. “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.”

On Sunday morning, officers conducted a full field necropsy and found the bear's intestines were plugged with paper towels disinfectant wipes, napkins, parts of plastic sacks and paper food wrappers, CPW said.

Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
The bear's intestines were blocked after it ate human trash that contained paper towels and disinfecting wipes.

“This plug was accompanied by french fries, green beans, onions and peanuts," said CPW District Wildlife Manager Mark Caddy. "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.”

CPW reminds the public to properly secure trash to avoid bear conflict. CPW has responded to 37 reports of human-bear conflicts in San Miguel County in 2023.

RELATED: Bear spotted in Broomfield, Westminster, Lafayette

According to Telluride Municipal Code 7.04.230 and 7.12.030, amended on June 03, 2008, any refuse container that contains refuse that is attractive to bears or other wildlife shall be secured with a locking mechanism except when refuse is being deposited.

Residents who fail to comply with the wildlife protection ordinance can see a fine of $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second offense. A third offense will result in a summons to appear in Municipal Court.


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