Animals Environment
01222015_bear_maine_AP Robert F. Bukaty, File/AP

A black bear in captivity waits for visitors to throw food into his pen at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine.

December 23, 2016

Family of bears in Pennsylvania likely killed from eating poisonous plant

WEST WYOMING, Pa. — Game commission officials say a poisonous ornamental shrub likely killed a black bear and her three cubs found dead on a church parking lot in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The bears were found on the lot of St. Monica's church in West Wyoming, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 6.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission says the bears ate the leaves and seeds of an English yew plant before they died. The plant is highly toxic to people and most animals if ingested.

Game Commission veterinarian Justin Brown says he's not aware of another case of black bear deaths from yew poisoning.

Officials say the 300-pound sow and her cubs were known to frequent populated areas, where yew typically grow, and the bears were likely foraging for food.

They say the bears likely died suddenly.