An American Black Bear. Contrary to popular belief, these bears come in many shades and color – not just black. They can also be spotted in varying browns, reds, and whites. Photo Credit: Frank Fichtmüller (iStock).

An undated file photo of an American black bear.

A 39-year-old woman was found dead late Friday in Colorado after what Parks and Wildlife officials believe was a bear attack, according to a Saturday news release from the agency.

The woman was found off US Highway 550 near Trimble, a town north of Durango in southwest Colorado.

The La Plata County Coroner's Office will complete an autopsy of the woman, who's identity was not released, next week, the agency said. 

The woman was a resident of Durango. It is believed she was out walking with her two dogs early Friday, according to the woman's boyfriend, who spoke with La Plata County Sheriff's Office. The woman's boyfriend said he last communicated with her early Friday, the news release said.

The boyfriend, whose name has not been released, told investigators he returned home about 8:30 p.m. Friday and discovered the two dogs outside of their home, but the woman was missing. He started searching for her and discovered her body around 9:30 p.m. and called 911.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers responded to the scene and reported signs of consumption on the woman's body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene.

Deputies assisted in the investigation. Parks and Wildlife called in a dog team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 the agency'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, the news release said.

“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” said Cory Chick, CPW southwest region manager, 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 [Colorado Parks and Wildlife].”

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

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have received a reports from the Durango area of bears becoming active this spring. The majority of these have been sighting reports.

On April 19, a resident along the Animas River and La Plata County Road 250 captured a single bear on his game camera and reported that the bear tore down his bird feeder. On March 23, the agency received a report of a bear getting into trash east of Durango off Florida Road.

Load comments