An autopsy this week will determine the official cause of death for a Colorado woman found dead after what authorities believe was a bear attack.
The body of the Durango woman, 39, was found Friday by her boyfriend, hours after she failed to return from walking her two dogs, state Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay said.
The attack comes less than two weeks after a Montana wilderness guide was fatally mauled by a grizzly bear that authorities said likely was defending a moose carcass near Yellowstone National Park. Charles “Carl” Mock, 40, was attacked last week while fishing north of West Yellowstone near a campground.
In Colorado, Clay said the woman had gone for a walk in the morning. Her boyfriend returned home at 8:30 p.m. to find the dogs outside and started searching and discovered her body an hour later, Clay said.
“Wildlife officers responded and observed signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene,” Clay said in a statement.
Grizzly bear attack kills backcountry guide near Yellowstone National Park
CPW called in a dog team from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services to search the area. The dog team quickly found a 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.
Wildlife officers worked throughout the night and into the morning to process the scene, looking for evidence to corroborate that the incident was a wildlife attack.
Clay said the agency has received multiple reports from the Durango area of bears becoming active this spring, but it was the first apparent attack.
“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” said Cory Chick, the state agency’s Cory Chick regional manager. “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.”