CONCORD, N.H., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Wildlife officials in New Hampshire are considering a ban on using chocolate as bear bait after the confection was blamed for the deaths of at least four bears.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is considering removing chocolate from the list of permitted items for hunters to use as bait for black bears after Andy Timmins, the state's bear project leader, told the Fish and Game Commission about the case of four black bears found dead near a bait site.
Timmins said a necropsy and toxicology scans conducted at the University of New Hampshire found the bears, two cubs and two adult females, died of heart failure linked to ingestion of theobromine, a natural chocolate ingredient that is also toxic to dogs.
Timmins said there has not been much previous study on the danger to bears posed by chocolate, but it appears that "all types of chocolate can be toxic."
"It depends on how much they take in," Timmins said.
"The most efficient, effective and enforceable way to eliminate this in the future is to eliminate the chances of any species becoming toxified by chocolate, and to remove chocolate from the woods," he said. "We view bear baiting as an important management tool. 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."