A Colorado woman has died in an apparent black bear attack, marking just the fourth fatal mauling in the state since record-keeping began in 1960, authorities say.
The 39-year-old woman’s boyfriend found her body on Friday night near the town of Durango, about 560km southwest of Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.
The man told police he arrived home about 8.30pm and found the couple’s two dogs outside, but his girlfriend, whose name has not been released, was missing.
He then searched a trail on private land where she frequently walked the dogs and notified authorities after discovering her body.
‘Signs of consumption’
An autopsy is pending, but authorities found bear fur, scat and “signs of consumption on the body,” wildlife officials said.
Bears of all species are aggressive defenders of their young – a factor investigators believe may have been a factor in the attack.
Using tracking dogs, wildlife officers located a 10-year-old sow and two yearlings nearby, and euthanised the three bears “out of an abundance of caution,” officials said.
The bear carcasses were transported to the state’s wildlife laboratory for necropsies, and DNA samples will be analysed at a forensic laboratory in Wyoming.
Colorado is home to an estimated 19,000 black bears, Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay said.
The agency has documented three other fatal black bear attacks on humans since it began tracking them 61 years ago.
Black bears, a name that describes the species rather than their colouring, are the only bears in Colorado.