Autopsy: Woman Attacked, Killed By Bear

Family: Donna Munson Died Trying To Help Smaller Bear

An autopsy showed a 74-year-old Ouray County woman whose body was found being eaten by a bear was attacked and killed by that same bear after she attempted to help a smaller bear that had been hurt in a fight.

The son-in-law of Donna Munson told 7NEWS that Munson was trying to help a smaller bear that had gotten into a fight with an older bear on Aug 7. The smaller bear suffered broken teeth in the brawl, Munson told her family.

Munson told her brother by telephone that she was putting out hard-boiled eggs and milk for the younger bear to eat, said the victim's son-in-law, Bruce Milne.

Munson told her brother Thursday night that the older bear was back and said, "I'm going to chase it off with a broom."

According to the county coroner, Munson was grabbed by the bear and it slashed her head and neck with such penetrating force that Munson would have bled out in 90 seconds.

Sheriff's investigators said that the bear "clubbed" her through the wire fence that she had built around her porch, rendering her unconscious. It then grabbed her, pulled her underneath the fence to the back yard and then slashed her to death, the sheriff's office said.

Later that day, a witness found a large bear feeding on Munson's body as it lay outside her home.

When deputies arrived to investigate the report of a mauling on Friday, they were approached by a 250-pound bear, which was actively sniffing the body. A deputy with the Ouray Sheriff's Office fired six rounds and killed the bear. A necropsy on that bear showed that it neither attacked nor fed on Munson.

On Saturday about 3 a.m., a second bear was acting aggressively towards investigators who were still at the house. A Division of Wildlife investigator shot and killed that bear -- a 400-pound male bear.

A necropsy on that second bear revealed human tissue as well as remnants of a shirt that Munson was wearing, according to the Ouray Sherrif's Office. The home of Donna Munson. The DOW says she used a fence to protect herself as she fed bears.

Officials at the Colorado Division of Wildlife said they had known for years that Munson routinely fed bears and would not stop, even after repeated requests from the DOW.

The remote nature of her home made observing possible wildlife violations impossible, the DOW said. Last year, the DOW sent a written notice to Munson and renters at her home warning of the dangers of feeding bears.

"It got to the point where she never opened her door for us, allowed us on her property or answered her phone," said DOW spokesman Tyler Baskfield. "Our officers went above and beyond, in terms of gaining her cooperation."

Munson had constructed a metal fence that covered her porch so that she could feed bears through the fence, wildlife officials said.

There have been only two fatal bear attacks in Colorado in the past 100 years. The first was in Grand County in 1971, when a man was killed. The second incident was Aug. 10, 1993, in Fremont County when a 24-year-old man was killed.

The family said Munson moved from southern California with her former husband, Jack, and they built the three-story log house outside of Ouray in 1978.

The coroner said her official cause of death was multiple trauma due to a bear attack. The manner of death was ruled to be accidental.