A Colorado man returned home Friday to find his girlfriend had been the victim of a bear attack while walking their dogs. The 39-year-old woman was found close by with “signs of consumption.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) authorities have announced a state bear fatality. A woman was mauled to death, then partially eaten, near her Colorado home on April 30 by a group of black bears. It is the state’s first fatal bear attack since 2009.
The 39-year-old woman, who is only identified as a “Durango resident” in CPW’s statement, had reportedly been missing for most of Friday. Authorities add that the woman’s boyfriend came home at 8:30pm to no sign of his girlfriend. Their two dogs, however, were waiting outside. This prompted the man to search for her.
Her body was found around 9:30 p.m. At this point, the boyfriend called 911. CPW’s own investigation of her body found “signs of consumption” present, and note “other evidence of a bear attack” taking place at the scene.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services then deployed a canine team to the area. Shortly after, they were able to locate a female black bear and her two yearlings. The bears, believed to be responsible, were euthanized and taken to the local lab for necropsy.
Human remains were found within the black bears, solidifying their role in the killing.
Fatal Black Bear Attack Shocks Colorado Residents
“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” cites Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager, in their statement. “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.”
Chick spoke further to local 9 News, saying “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the boyfriend, family and friends of the woman we lost in this tragic event… We cannot determine with exact certainty how or why this attack took place, but it is important for the public not to cast blame on this woman for the unfortunate and tragic event.”
To gather further evidence on what may have prompted the bears to attack, the La Plata County, CO coroner’s office will conduct an autopsy Tuesday, May 9.
Chick further asks the public to “avoid the area as the CPW investigation with La Plata County continues.”
The area, which is not specified outside of “Durango,” has received multiple reports of “active bears” near populous communities. Local reports of black bears tearing down bird feeders and rooting trash cans persist.
After examining the sow’s teeth, CPW concludes the mother black bear to be over 10 years old. Yearling black bears are large enough to be a threat to humans, as well.