Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) released a statement on Monday saying that a woman was found dead on the side of the road after what appeared to be a black bear attack.
The statement detailed that the body was of a 39-year-old woman found on Friday night off U.S. Highway 550 near Trimble, just north of the city of Durango.
“An autopsy on the woman will be performed by the La Plata County coroner early next week. The coroner’s office will identify the remains and determine the official cause of death,” the CPW statement read.
After speaking with the victim’s boyfriend, investigators believe the woman left the house to take her two dogs out for a walk when she encountered the black bear (potentially with cubs). The boyfriend told police that he came home at 8:30pm and noticed the dogs were outside, loose and that was strange to him.
When he started searching for her, he tragically discovered her body around 9:30pm and immediately called 911. CPW wildlife officials investigated the scene and found plenty of bear scat and hair, so they called a dog team in from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to help find the bear.
The dogs quickly found a sow (female) black bear with two yearlings nearby in the woods. Authorities said that the bears were euthanized and taken to CPW’s Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins for a necropsy.
“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,” CPW reported.
“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager added.“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.”
Bears are more active now than ever this time of year and it is important to be aware of them when you’re in their environment. To learn more about bear safety, watch the official video released by CPW on YouTube below showing what to do if you see a bear.