4 bears in New Hampshire overdose on chocolate

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Four Bears Die from ODing on Chocolate

CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire's bear expert is proposing to eliminate the use of chocolate as bait after four bears were found dead at one trapping site due to a chocolate overdose.

The bears - two female adults and two cubs - were found dead within 50 feet of where a hunter had put down 90 pounds of chocolate and doughnuts as bait in September, The Concord Monitor reported.

A necropsy and toxicology reports performed at the University of New Hampshire confirmed they died of heart failure caused by theobromine, a toxic ingredient in chocolate.

The best way to stop this from happening again is to remove chocolate from the woods, Andrew Timmins, the state Fish and Game Department's bear project leader, told a commission meeting Wednesday.

The possibility that bears could die from eating chocolate caught the department's attention in 2011, after the death of a black bear cub in Michigan was linked to theobromine.

Timmins said the amount of theobromine varies by type of chocolate used, but all can be toxic depending on how much an animal eats.

"We view bear baiting as an important management tool," he said. "It's not something we want to go get rid of, but perhaps some modifications need to be made to determine bear baiting practices to eliminate the chances of chocolate poisoning our wildlife."

Dave Nickerson, who attended the meeting, was skeptical of the cause of the death. He said chocolate has been used at many sites, and has been used in many states. He asked if the lab had tested for antifreeze.

"This is the first time we've had four dead bears at one site," Nickerson said. "It highly suggests that poisoning could have occurred."

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