A Colorado woman who went missing while walking her dogs was found mauled to death, apparently attacked and eaten by two bears.
The body of the 39-year-old woman was found around 9:30 p.m. Friday by her boyfriend, who had gone looking for her when he arrived at their home near Durango an hour earlier and found their dogs loose outside, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release.
Tracking teams found three bears in the area — an adult female black bear and two cubs. All three were put to death and examined. The adult and one of the cubs had human remains in their stomachs.
CPW’s wildlife pathologist said all three bears appeared to be healthy. The adult weighed 204 pounds and the cubs 66 and 58 pounds. Initial findings did not reveal any signs of disease or other abnormalities.
“Whenever an animal is euthanized, we receive many questions about why that action was necessary,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow in a release. “Our responsibilities to the natural resources of the state are many, but we have no more important duty than to manage these resources in a manner that keeps Coloradans and our visitors safe. Euthanizing wildlife is never an action our officers take lightly, but we have an obligation to prevent additional avoidable harm.”
The bears were likely to attack humans again, according to CPW Southwest Region manager Cory Chick, who added that bears return to food sources and lose the fear of humans.
“Once a bear injures or consumes humans, we will not risk the chance that this could happen to someone else,” Chick said. “We humanely euthanize that bear because of the severity of the incident.”
Colorado is estimated to have around 20,000 black bears, with growing populations in many areas across the state. Over the last two years, CPW received 879 reports of bears forcefully breaking into dwellings or garages. Most of the time, these interactions cause bear deaths; human deaths caused by bears are extremely rare.
Fatal Bear Attacks in Colorado
Aug. 7, 2009: A 74-year-old woman was killed and partially eaten by a bear or bears at her home near Ouray. Two aggressive bears were killed during the investigation, and one was found to have human remains its digestive system. A CPW investigation determined the woman illegally fed bears near her yard.
Aug. 10, 1993: A 24-year-old Buena Vista man was attacked and killed after a male bear broke into a camper truck in Fremont County, presumably in a search for food. The man shot the bear and wounded it, possibly increasing the intensity of the attack. A 250-pound, very aggressive male black bear with a fresh bullet wound was trapped and killed six days later. The bear had human remains in its digestive system.
July 25, 1971: A honeymooning couple was attacked while tent camping near Grand Lake in Grand County. A large older bear entered the tent, injured the woman and pulled the 31-year-old man away from the campsite. The man was killed. The bear was found and euthanized.