A bear attacked and killed a woman who was walking her dogs Friday night in La Plata County, and wildlife officers euthanized a female bear and her two yearlings after tracking them with dogs.
The 39-year-old woman’s body was discovered about 9 p.m. Friday by her boyfriend, who started searching for her when he got home from work, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release. The man found the couple’s two dogs at home about 8:30 p.m. but not his girlfriend, and he called 911 after finding her body.
The body was found off U.S. 550 near Trimble, north of Durango, the news release said.
Wildlife officers saw signs that the bear had eaten parts of the woman and they reported bear scat and hair at the scene, the news release said. Dogs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services were used to track a black bear, and they found her with two yearlings.
A necropsy on the bears will be performed at the agency’s Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins, and DNA from the bears and the scene will be sent to Laramie for testing at the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic & Fish Health Laboratory, the news release said. Wildlife officials believe the female bear was about 10 years old, based on an examination of her teeth.
“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager, said in the news release. “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.”
Wildlife officers worked throughout the night and into the morning to process the scene, looking for evidence to corroborate it was a wildlife attack. The public is asked to avoid the area as the investigation with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office continues.
Bears already are active in the Durango area this spring, Parks and Wildlife reported. A resident along the Animas River and County Road 250 captured a single bear on his game camera on April 19 and reported that the bear tore down his bird feeder. On March 23, Parks and Wildlife received a report of a bear getting into trash east of Durango off Florida Road.
To learn more about what to do in a bear encounter, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/bears.
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. As sheriff’s deputies were investigating the scene, they were approached aggressively by a 250-pound, 5-year-old male black bear. Deputies killed the bear, but a necropsy was inconclusive as to whether it killed the woman. Early the next morning, federal wildlife officers killed a 394-pound, mature male black bear that exhibited aggressive behavior near the home. A necropsy on the large older boar revealed human remains and remnants of clothing in its digestive system. A CPW investigation determined the woman illegally fed bears through a fence in her yard.
Aug. 10, 1993: A 24-year-old Buena Vista man was attacked and killed after a male bear broke into a camper 20 miles north of Cotopaxi in Fremont County, presumably in a search for food. The camper shot the bear, but a bullet grazed its rib cage, possibly increasing the intensity of the attack. A 250-pound, very aggressive male black bear with a fresh bullet wound to the rib cage 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. The black bear had worn, abscessed teeth and a plastic bucket in its stomach.
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