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Bears attack and kill Colorado woman, wildlife officials confirm human remains found in animals’ stomachs

Colorado Parks and Wildlife found human remains inside the stomachs of a black bear and her cub on Sunday night. The bears are suspected of killing and eating a 39-year-old woman on Friday north of Durango.

CPW wildlife officers discovered three bears near the woman’s mauled body after a search, including a team of trained tracking dogs. The team was called after the woman’s body was found off U.S. Highway 550 in Trimble, near Durango. All three bears were euthanized, but a second cub did not appear to consume any of the woman.

“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.”

Besides finding human remains in two of the bears, CPW’s wildlife pathologist said she found nothing abnormal in the bears. All three appeared to be healthy. The adult mother weighed 204 pounds while the cubs weighed 66 and 58 pounds. All three bears were in good condition and initial findings did not reveal any signs of disease or other abnormalities. CPW says they will conduct further tests that could take weeks to complete.

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.”

The woman was walking her dog Friday night in La Plata County. Her two dogs were found at her home at about 8:30 p.m. by her boyfriend, but the woman was not with the dogs. He called 911 after finding her body around 9 p.m.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the boyfriend, family and friends of the woman we lost in this tragic event,” said Chick. “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.”

Colorado is estimated to have between 17,000-20,000 black bears, with growing populations in many areas across the state. Over the last two years, CPW received 879 bear conflict reports involved bears forcefully breaking into homes, dwellings or garages. They say that this is caused by the bear’s behavior dangerously escalating due to people’s inability or unwillingness to secure food attractants. 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. 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.

To learn more about what to do in a bear encounter, visit

Source: Orange County Register

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