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Durango woman walking dogs found dead after apparent bear attack

Bears were euthanized and will be sent to Fort Collins for a necropsy
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Posted at 11:19 AM, May 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 09:51:12-04

DURANGO, Colo. — A 39-year-old woman walking her dogs was found dead Friday night after an apparent bear attack, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife release.

The woman’s body was found off U.S. Highway 550 near Trimble, north of Durango.

According to the La Plata County Sheriff’s office, the woman’s boyfriend said the victim went walking with her two dogs earlier Friday.

When the boyfriend returned home later in the evening, he found the two dogs but the woman was missing.

The boyfriend found the woman’s body around 9:30 p.m. and called 911 to report the incident.

Wildlife officers responded and observed signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene.

MORE | What you need to know about staying safe in Colorado bear country

A dog team quickly found a sow (female) black bear with two yearlings nearby. The bears were euthanized and are being taken to CPW’s Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins for a necropsy, according to the CPW release.

An examination of the sow’s teeth led wildlife officers to believe she was over 10 years old.

DNA evidence from the bears and the scene will be sent to Laramie for testing at the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic & Fish Health Laboratory.

“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” said CPW Southwest Region manager Cory Chick in the 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. We ask the public to report any encounter with an aggressive bear to CPW.”

The CPW said they have received a few reports from the Durango area of bears becoming active this spring.

Bears are active statewide and it is important to be Bear Aware. To learn more about how to be safe in bear country, visit the CPW website.

Fatal bear attacks in Colorado

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 later found and destroyed. Further examination of the black bear found that it had worn, abscessed teeth and a plastic bucket in its stomach.

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 tried to stop the attack by shooting at the bear, but it only injured the animal. The bear was injured by a bullet that 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 destroyed six days later. A necropsy on the bear revealed human remains in its digestive system.

Aug. 7, 2009: A 74-year-old woman was killed and partially eaten by a bear or bears at her home near Ouray, in Ouray County. As sheriff's deputies were investigating the scene, they were approached by a 250-pound, 5-year-old male black bear that exhibited aggressive behavior. Deputies shot and killed the bear after it approached them and showed no fear of people. Results of the necropsy on that bear were inconclusive as to whether it was involved in the original incident. Early the next morning, federal wildlife officers killed a 394-pound, mature male black bear that approached the home and exhibited aggressive behavior. A necropsy on the large older boar revealed human remains and remnants of clothing in its digestive system. A CPW investigation determined the victim illegally fed bears through a fence in her yard.

Information from Colorado Parks and Wildlife