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CPW News Release
CPW News Release
Telluride bear suffering from trash blocking intestines euthanized by CPW

John Livingston
Southwest Region Public Information Officer

CPW humanely euthanized Telluride bear suffering from intestinal blockage caused by trash

A photo shows wipes removed from the stomach of a black bear euthanized Sept. 9 in Telluride. The wipes, along with other trash, caused a severe intestinal blockage that prevented the bear from digesting food.
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife humanely euthanized a sick male black bear Saturday night in Telluride. The boar, which weighed an estimated 400 pounds, showed signs of infection and was suffering from a severe intestinal blockage caused by consumed 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 received a report of a sick or injured bear near the river trail in Telluride in the early afternoon of Sept. 9. CPW officers observed the bear and were assisted by Telluride Marshal's officers in keeping the bear from getting close to people wading in the river.

The bear acted feverish and had puffy eyes and discharge coming from its eyes and mouth. CPW officers also determined it likely had severe abdominal pain based on their observations and from a video supplied by a resident of the building the bear was near. The bear 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. It was also believed to be the same bear involved in a home entry earlier in the summer.

Previously, the bear did respond to hazing measures. However, the bear did not respond to hazing techniques when CPW officers confronted the bear Sept. 9. The bear also bluff charged a CPW officer.

Based on the behavior and condition of the bear, CPW made the decision to euthanize the animal for human health and safety reasons as well as to prevent the bear from further suffering. The bear was killed the evening of Sept. 9.

On the morning of Sept. 10, 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 Wildlife Manager Mark Caddy. “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.”

Sralla said this incident is an urgent reminder to the public – residents, visitors and business owners alike – to properly secure trash to avoid bear conflict. CPW has responded to 37 reported human-bear conflicts in San Miguel County in 2023.

“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.”

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. 
  • The animal resistant polycart must have an attached lockable reinforced lid and a two-latch locking mechanism that prevents access to the contents by wildlife.
  • Polycarts shall have the street address and unit number of each entity using the polycart permanently affixed to the container in legible white letters and digits two inches in height.

Failure to comply with the wildlife protection ordinance can result in a fine of $250 for the first offense; $500 for a second offense; a third offense will result in a summons to appear in Municipal Court.

“Telluride has an ordinance to address bear in trash issues,” Sralla said. “We need the community to follow that ordinance to be a better neighbor to our bears and prevent this type of incident from happening again.”

LISTEN: Colorado Outdoors Podcast Season 2, Episode 1: Co-existing with Bears.

For more information on bears in Colorado, visit If you have questions or need to report bear problems, call your nearest CPW office
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