Investigators finally understand why an entire family of bears died in a parking lot


On Dec. 6 of this year, the West Wyoming Borough Police Department received a very strange case.

An entire family of bears appeared to have died in the parking lot of St. Monica’s church in West Wyoming, Pennsylvania. The bears showed no obvious signs of trauma or thrashing, and it would be weeks before investigators could finally determine the cause of their deaths.

The case was so mysterious that the West Wyoming Police Department as well as the Pennsylvania Game Commission asked the public for their thoughts on how the bears might have died.

Check out these wild bears

In this photo taken June 29, 2010, a grizzly bear used for medical research stands up after smelling fresh apples, at the Washington State University bear pen in Pullman, Wash. Grizzly bears love pastries, can be 50 percent body fat and spend nearly half the year sleeping. Yet the hibernating bears don’t suffer heart attacks, have no hardening of the arteries, no fatty deposits or any circulation issues, said Charles Robbins, director of the Washington State University bear research center. Robbins, who founded the center in 1986, and other WSU scientists are seeking to learn how bear hearts stay so healthy, and whether the answers can be applied to humans. (AP Photo/Dean Hare)

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“The highly unusual circumstances prompted the Game Commission to consider the deaths suspicious and requested that persons with any information regarding the incident to contact the agency,” the Game Commission wrote on Facebook.

After conducting post-mortem examinations and completing a toxicology report, investigators were able to determine that the bears had eaten the English Yew plant, a poisonous ornamental shrub. Yew plants contain taxine, toxic to most animals if consumed.

Parts of the yew plant were discovered in each of the bear’s stomachs.

“While yew are toxic year-round, toxin levels increase during the winter months. Yew is cardiotoxic and impacts the heart’s ability to beat properly,” The Game Commission wrote on Facebook.

Weird sad case, closed.

[H/T Buzzfeed]

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