Bear likely died from ingesting landfill garbage
An adult female black bear, found dead inside the electric fence at the Whistler landfill on Nov. 11, likely died in pain after ingesting foreign material from the landfill.
A post-mortem done by Dr. David Lane of Coast Mountain Veterinary Services found the underweight bear died of septic peritonitis. The bear had badly damaged teeth — all four canine teeth were fractured and eroded with exposed or infected root canals — and was underweight, likely because of her teeth and a poor berry crop this fall. She was believed to be four years old and appears to have reached sexual maturity earlier than usual.
Lane’s assessment from his Nov. 11 post-mortem states: "Excluding the presence of parasites and the damaged teeth, all of the clinical signs (congested/hemorrhagic lungs, fibrin and hemorrhagic fluid in abdomen, contracted spleen, gastric bleeding) are consistent with diffuse infection of the abdominal cavity leading to septic shock and agonal death. The causative episode likely happened less than four days ago and certainly less than one week ago. Erosion of the intestinal wall is the most likely cause of the peritonitis. The consumption of abrasive foods or pointed items (capable of perforating the intestine) have been implicated as the cause of peritonitis in other species."
The bear and her two cubs-of-the-year were tagged and relocated from the Whistler Golf Course to Cougar Mountain on Oct. 14, according to black bear researcher Michael Allen. On Nov. 2 the family was observed feeding inside the electric fence at the landfill. From Nov. 8 to 10 only the mother was seen inside the fence, where she fed nightly on garbage and slept during the day. The fate of the cubs is unknown.
Allen says the mother bear was observed feeding at the landfill for a minimum of nine days. The bear's intestine was filled with small pieces of styrofoam. Styrofoam can absorb important bodily fluids and/or act as an abrasive against the intestinal wall. Plastics may also be ingested by bears feeding at the landfill. Plastics may cause blockage or twisting along the intestine.
B.C. and Yukon Conservation Officers also report frequent injuries to bears from feeding at landfills, including burnt or cut pads, claw loss, hair loss, broken teeth, and lacerations or punctures to the body.