Bears will eat just about anything, but not even their stomachs can handle a mountain of chocolate and donuts.
Bears will eat just about anything, but not even their stomachs can handle a mountain of chocolate and donuts.

How much chocolate is too much chocolate? For a group of four black bears, a 90-pound mountain of chocolate and chocolate donuts proved to be lethal. According to the Concord Monitor, the New Hampshire Game and Fish Department is considering new regulations for bear baiting after conservation officers found two adult female bears and two cubs dead near a bait site in the northern part of the state.

“The case in New Hampshire perhaps represents one of the most significant cases for two reasons,” Game and Fish bear project leader Andrew Timmins told the Monitor. “First, the concentration of dead bears found at the site is unprecedented, and the direct link between the chocolate and the death of an adult bear is rare.”

According to wildlife officials, there have been longstanding concerns over the use of chocolate as bear bait. Hunters are advised to avoid using it at their bait sites because chocolate contains theobromine, an ingredient that is toxic not only to bears, but to other animals such as raccoons and dogs as well. It is also unknown how much theobromine is too much before triggering a fatal overdose.

“While theobromine poisoning has been studied and documented in wild and domestic dogs, cats, rodents and humans, per-pound toxicity levels for bears and other wildlife species remain unknown at this time,” Fish and Game wrote on its website.

The amount of chocolate that is fatal can differ from animal to animal and different types of chocolate also contain different levels of theobromine. Experts say that unsweetened baker’s chocolate has the highest concentration of the ingredient, followed by dark chocolate and finally milk chocolate, which has the lowest amount.

“The size of the animal ingesting the chocolate is also an important factor,” stated Fish and Game. “Smaller animals are more susceptible to poisoning compared to larger animals, because they do not have to eat as much to be impacted.”

As such, bear cubs are especially vulnerable to fatal doses of theobromine. Previously, Fish and Game did not support changing regulations to ban chocolate use in bait sites, but the recent case led Timmins and other staff members to draft a formal proposal to the Fish and Game Commission. Wildlife officials reassured hunters that baiting remains a vital part of the bear management program, and no plans are in motion to get rid of baiting altogether. However, new regulations may be set to avoid accidental bear poisoning in the future.

Officials have also not stated whether there would be any charges for the unidentified hunter who placed the bait pile. The hunter stated that he had been bear hunting for 15 years and have previously used the chocolate and donut bait at other sites before.

What are your thoughts? Please let us know in the comments below.

Image from Brian Stansberry on the Wikimedia Commons

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3 thoughts on “NH Officials Review Bear Bait Regulations after Chocolate “Overdose” Allegedly Kills 4

  1. 1 ounce per pound is considered lethal to dogs. using this, a 350 pound bear would need to eat 350 ounces (21.8 pounds) of solid chocolate (with donuts in the mix, maybe 90 pounds of food). The four bears would need to eat nearly the complete pile to die from chocolate poisoning. Possible, not probable.

  2. Has a necropsy been performed on the bears to determine the cause of death ? Has a toxicology study been done on the ” bait ” ? Considering the anti-hunting campaign over bear baiting , the possibility exists that the bait was purposely poisoned to heighten controversy

  3. I am against 99% of the so-called prudent measures that governing factions have imposed or tried to impose on OUR fish and game laws. The Feds have usurped the states sovereignty in so many ways. Any more changes just raise suspicion and resistance. I am one of the most adamant against their meddling, especially when their science is so emotional and knee jerk. They have proven to do some pretty stupid things, especially in recent years. For example ‘relocating’ a giant non indigenous wolves into areas of the lower 48 where they never have been, and did not get there naturally. I have often said and still believe that liberal progressives have hijacked the vast majority of OUR country’s institutions to ‘hide’ amongst us and subversively impact our thinking, philosophies, and ultimately have US say what they want us to say. Effectively manipulating how you perceive and respond. This absolutely includes state and federal natural resource management. The preponderance of data will say they have no alternative but to remove our hunting and fishing rights based on overuse and abuse, one chip at a time. It’s called setting precedence. Each time they “prove” something, that is the foot in the door for what comes next. The conclusion of that train of thought is that I’m right and we lose our rights to hunt and fish. Making us more and more dependent upon the governing bodies to allow this and that. It equates to the loss of OUR freedom(s). However as a good steward of OUR natural resources it seems to me that WE absolutely should at least limit the amount of chocolate on a bait. Or restrict to artificial flavored chocolate stuffs. That is if it’s proven that the chocolate killed the Bears. The points mentioned herein are good ones, and it would not shock me to learn the antis sacrificed some animals to prove a non point. I agree about a toxicology on the bait and all. Prove it I say. I hunt bears, I have for 13 out of the last 22 (stupid lottery!) years, and will stand for hunting of all types til I’m dead. But it really doesn’t effect baiting to not use chocolate. I never have. Not for these reasons, I just never have. I didn’t see the point when they love maple syrup, jelly, peanut butter, so much. In my history there has never been a solid reason to have to use expensive things such as chocolate. I also understand a few fortunate bear hunters have access to loads of thrown out candy and baked goods. Where I live they “outlawed” the stores to let people have that stuff because some folks got it for free food, ate it and got sick. So now we can’t do that unless we do it on the sly, basically infringing on my ability to hunt. So I get it, I’m suspicious too, but there is no need for needless things, especially if they have a negative effect. Stand strong on your rights, but at the same time make only ‘real’ necessary changes. There can’t be many anymore right?

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