The picturesque town of Telluride, Colorado, recently witnessed a somber reminder of human impact on wildlife. Concerned residents alerted authorities about a bear exhibiting signs of severe illness. The bear, with foam at its mouth and swollen eyes, could barely move without needing to rest, indicating it was in a dire state. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, assessing the bear’s condition, made the difficult decision to euthanize the animal to prevent further suffering.
The autopsy conducted on the bear uncovered a harrowing sight: its stomach and intestines were clogged with plastic bags, wipes, paper towels, and other indigestible materials. This blockage had prevented the bear from properly digesting food, effectively causing it to starve amidst plenty. John Livingston, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, described the bear’s condition as “decaying from the inside out,” a truly horrific way to die.
This incident highlights the broader issue of plastic waste affecting wildlife globally. Bears, with their keen sense of smell, are particularly at risk as they can detect and consume plastic waste, which they are unable to digest. The problem extends beyond bears, with an estimated 100,000 marine animals dying each year from plastic ingestion or entanglement, according to Earth.org.
To combat this growing crisis, individuals are encouraged to reduce their plastic use by adopting reusable items and ensuring proper disposal of waste, especially in areas where wildlife is present. Simple actions like using reusable water bottles, choosing biodegradable packaging, and securing trash can make a significant difference in preventing such tragedies.
The loss of the bear in Telluride serves as a poignant call to action for all of us to consider the consequences of our daily choices on the environment and its inhabitants.