Colorado wildlife officials last week euthanized a male black bear that was suffering from a severe intestinal blockage caused by eating indigestible human trash.
“The bear could not digest food and was very sick,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager Rachel Sralla said in a Wednesday news release.
CPW received a report about a sick bear in Telluride on Sept. 9, the release said. At that point, the bear was foaming at the mouth and had puffy eyes giving off discharge. He also exhibited a humped posture and a reluctance to move, which suggested serious abdominal pain.
“He would walk about 20 or 30 yards at a time before needing to lay down,” CPW spokesperson John Livingston told CNN.
The bear was in bad enough condition that wildlife officers decided to euthanize him to end his suffering. A necropsy of the bear showed the source of his ill health ― garbage that had created a “plug” between his stomach and intestines.
“There was all these paper towels, wipes, plastic bag type materials, and indigestible food content,” Livingston told CNN.
Food could not pass through the plug, which was causing the bear to starve. Additionally, the plug had started accumulating undigested food matter. The mass had started to decompose, leading to a bacterial infection and enlarged intestines.
Sralla said the plug would have ultimately caused the bear a long and drawn-out death.
“When you have a very fat 400-pound bear, it will take it ages to starve to death,” Sralla said in CPW’s news release. “That’s a horrific way to die, decaying from the inside out for that long.”
The incident underscores the importance of proper trash disposal, the agency said. Livingston told the Telluride Daily Planet, a local paper, that it’s crucial for people living in areas with bears to place their garbage in secure containers and wait to set their trash out until the morning of pickup, minimizing the amount of time it’s outside.
“We can’t say it enough, so here it is again,” the Southwest Region division of CPW wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in a post about the incident. “Trash kills bears.”