Durango, Colorado woman, 39, killed in bear attack while walking her dogs. Female bear with two cubs found nearby are euthanized after evidence of human flesh.
The woman’s boyfriend found her body on Friday night near the town of Durango, about 350 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.
The man told police he arrived home around 8:30 p.m. and found the couple’s two dogs outside, but his girlfriend missing. The woman had earlier gone for a morning walk.
He searched a trail where she frequently walked the dogs, where upon an hour later he came across the woman’s body before notifying authorities.
The woman’s name along with her boyfriend’s have not yet been released by authorities.
‘Bear attacks are extremely rare,’
Using tracking dogs, wildlife officers located a 10-year-old sow and two yearlings nearby, and euthanized the three bears ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ officials said.
The bear carcasses were transported to the state’s wildlife laboratory for necropsies, and DNA samples will be analyzed at a forensic laboratory in Wyoming.
An autopsy of the victim is pending, but authorities found bear fur, scat and ‘signs of consumption on the body,’ wildlife officials said.
The woman’s death is the fourth fatal mauling in the state since record-keeping began in 1960.
Officials say that while bear attacks are rare, the incident should serve as a reminder to the public that wild animals can be dangerous.
‘Bear attacks are extremely rare,’ said Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager according to the Durango Herald.
‘This is a tragic event and a sad reminder that bears are wild and potentially dangerous. Out of an abundance of caution, the bears were removed for public safety. We ask the public to report any encounter with an aggressive bear to CPW.’
Instinct is to run away from potential danger
Colorado is home to an estimated 19,000 black bears, Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay said.
The agency has documented three other fatal black bear attacks on humans since it began tracking them 61 years ago, Clay said.
The last attack fatality in Colorado occurred in 2009, when a 74-year-old woman was killed and partially eaten by a bear or bears at her home near Ouray. Early the next morning, federal wildlife officers killed a 394-pound, mature male black bear that approached the home and exhibited aggressive behavior.
Black bears, a name that describes the species rather than their coloring, are the only bears in Colorado. Black bears are generally smaller than grizzly bears, with males averaging around 275 pounds and females about 175 pounds, according to the state wildlife agency.
The bears are naturally shy and wary of people. Typically, their instinct is to run away from potential danger, according to the wildlife agency.
Clay recommend that people make their presence known while in bear country. Clay suggested making noise or walking with a friend, the Herald reported. He said bear spray and air horns can be used as deterrents.
During run-ins with bears, he said, people should stand still and speak calmly. If the bear doesn’t leave, they should stay in place while waving their arms to look bigger.
Clay said black bears are active in the spring, and there have been several sightings of the bears near Durango.
A bear was seen rummaging through a garbage bin, and another tearing down a bird feeder outside a man’s home along the Animas River, he said.