A 39-year-old Colorado woman died in an apparent black bear attack, just the fourth fatal mauling in the state since records began in 1960, authorities said on Saturday.
The woman’s boyfriend found her body on Friday night near the town of Durango, about 350 miles south-west of Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
The man told police he arrived home around 8.30pm and found the couple’s two dogs outside and his girlfriend missing. He searched a trail on private land where she frequently walked the dogs and notified authorities after discovering her body.
The woman’s name was not released. An autopsy was pending but authorities found bear fur, scat and “signs of consumption on the body”, officials said.
Using tracking dogs, wildlife officers located a 10-year-old sow and two yearlings nearby and killed the three bears “out of an abundance of caution”, officials said.
The bear carcasses were transported to the state wildlife laboratory for necropsies. DNA samples will be analyzed at a forensic laboratory in Wyoming.
Colorado is home to an estimated 19,000 black bears, a state wildlife spokesman said, adding that 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 species rather than color, are the only bears in Colorado.
The spokesman said black bears are active in the spring and there have been several sightings near Durango. A bear was seen rummaging through a garbage bin and another tearing down a bird feeder outside a home along the Animas river, he said.