Wild animals that do drugs and other strange things

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In September 1985, authorities discovered the body of Andrew Thornton, a drug dealer, in Tennessee. He had a bag full of cocaine, a damaged parachute and the key to a small plane, which crashed some 100 kilometers away.

Investigators spent months searching for the rest of his loot, which they suspected he had dropped along his air route. But in the North Georgia mountains, a black bear found him first, ingested the cocaine and overdosed.

The curious but true story, which inspired the new movie ‘Intoxicated Bear’, is the result of an unusual confluence of events, and wildlife professionals in the United States said they had never seen another case like it.

But experts have seen wild animals consume just about anything. And animals’ taste for human goods—licit and illegal—can cause problems for them and for us.

Bears, which have a keen sense of smell, they have learned that humans are a reliable source of food. Sometimes bears even break into houses. In the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts, a thieving bear was routinely looking for frozen treats.

“That bear was going into multiple homes and bypassing the available food, going straight to the freezer and eating snow,” said Andrew Madden, a supervisor with the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Bears sometimes trip over other substances. In October 2020, a man in Cotopaxi, Colorado, reported that a bear had raided an outdoor freezer and made off with marijuana edibles, said Joseph Livingston, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Another resident of that state reported that a bear had escaped with a cooler of beer, and bears have been observed chewing on beer cans, Livingston said.

Recreational drugs can make wild animals sick. In 2018, the Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Gibsons, British Columbia, took in a stunned raccoon. Laboratory tests suggested that the animal had ingested marijuana and benzodiazepines, depressants often prescribed for anxiety.

The center kept the animal calm, and after a few hours, it came to and was released.

Even regular human food can present hazards.

In September, wildlife officials found two dead black vultures in Dutchess County in New York. “The cause of death was theobromine/caffeine poisoning caused by material that looked and smelled like chocolate,” said Kevin Hynes, wildlife health program leader with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Animals that eat garbage often eat other things. Colorado officials had to euthanize a bear they found in a dumpster; an autopsy revealed his stomach was “full of plastic and cigarette butts and really nasty stuff,” Livingston said.

And some animals, including bears, move from yards to homes, creating “a situation where it’s now a threat and needs to be removed,” said Dave Wattles, a biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife. Experts recommend that people dispose of trash properly and store pet food, trash, and other treats indoors safely. People should also refrain from feeding wildlife, they said, and, allegedly, from dropping cocaine from planes.

By: Emily Anthes

BBC-NEWS-SRC:, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-02-27 23:10:07

#Wild #animals #drugs #strange
( With inputs from : )

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