Last week, wildlife officials in Colorado euthanized a male black bear suffering from severe intestinal obstruction caused by eating indigestible human waste.
“The bear couldn’t digest the food and was very sick,” said Rachel Sralla, wildlife manager for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area said in a news release Wednesday.
CPW received a report of a sick bear in Telluride on Sept. 9, the release said. At this point, the bear was foaming at the mouth and had swollen eyes that were leaking discharge. He also exhibited a hunched posture and reluctance to move, which suggested severe abdominal pain.
“He walked about 20 to 30 yards at a time before he had to lie down,” said CPW spokesman John Livingston said CNN.
The bear’s condition was so bad that wildlife officials decided to euthanize it to end its suffering. An autopsy of the bear revealed the cause of its poor health: garbage that had formed a “plug” between its stomach and intestines.
“There were all these paper towels, wipes, plastic bag-like materials and indigestible food contents,” Livingston told CNN.
The food couldn’t get through the stopper, causing the bear to starve. In addition, the plug had begun to accumulate undigested food particles. The mass began to decompose, causing a bacterial infection and enlargement of the intestines.
Sralla said the plug ultimately gave the bear a long, drawn-out death.
“If you have a very fat 400-pound bear, it will take forever for him to starve,” Sralla said in the CPW news release. “That’s a terrible way to die, decaying from the inside for so long.”
The incident underscores the importance of proper waste disposal, the agency said. Livingston told the Telluride Daily PlanetA local newspaper said it is critical for people living in areas with bears to dispose of their trash in secure containers and wait to unload it until the morning of pickup to minimize the time it remains outside .
“We can’t say it enough, so here it is again,” CPW’s Southwest Region division wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in one Post about the incident. “Garbage kills bears.”