‘Horrific way to die’: Starving bear euthanized after intestines blocked with human trash

Colorado wildlife officers said they had to euthanize a sick bear in the Telluride area.
Colorado wildlife officers said they had to euthanize a sick bear in the Telluride area.(Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
Published: Sep. 16, 2023 at 12:14 PM EDT
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TELLURIDE, Colo. (Gray News) - Wildlife officials in Colorado say a sick bear had to be euthanized last weekend.

According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a 400-pound black bear was found in the Telluride area that showed signs of infection.

The team said the animal was suffering from a severe intestinal blockage caused by consumed human trash.

“The bear could not digest food and was very sick,” CPW Area Manager Rachel Sralla. “It all comes back to trash.”

Officials said the wildlife team received a report of the sick animal early afternoon last Saturday.

CPW officers observed the bear and were assisted by Telluride Marshal’s officers in keeping it from getting close to people wading in the river.

The bear reportedly was acting feverish and had puffy eyes with discharge coming from its eyes and mouth.

Officers said they determined the bear likely had severe abdominal pain. It also displayed a humped position while walking and was reluctant to move.

The bear was well known in the Telluride area and had been hazed away from public spaces by law enforcement in the past.

Based on the behavior and condition of the bear, CPW said it made the decision to euthanize the animal for human health and safety reasons as well as to prevent the bear from further suffering.

“We could not leave a sick bear like this knowing it was suffering and struggling to survive,” Sralla said. “The reason we had to put this bear down was to end its suffering that was caused by eating indigestible trash.”

Last Sunday, CPW officers conducted a full field necropsy of the bear.

“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 CPW District Manager Mark Caddy.

Officials said this incident is an urgent reminder to the public to properly secure and dispose of trash.

“Decaying from the inside out for that long is a horrific way to die,” Sralla said. “As officers, we had to make an unfavorable call. It’s a call we wish we never have to make.”