La Plata County coroner is going to perform an autopsy at the beginning of the next week. The coroner’s office is expected to identify the remains and determine the official cause of death.
According to information provided to the La Plata County Sheriff’s office by the victim’s boyfriend, the woman, a resident of Durango, presumably, had gone walking with her two dogs earlier that Friday. The victim had last communicated with her boyfriend late in the morning.
The name of the boyfriend has not been released. It is known that he told the sheriff’s office that he came back home at around 8:30 p.m. and discovered the two dogs outside of their home, while his girlfriend was missing. He started searching for her and discovered her body around 9:30 p.m. Then he dialled 911 in order to report the incident.
CPW wildlife officers arrived at the scene and observed signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair nearby.
La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies also took part in the investigation. CPW even engaged a dog team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to search the area.
The dog team quickly found a sow, which is 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. 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.
Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager, said regarding the incident:
“Bear attacks are extremely rare. 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.”
Cory Chick warned the public and asked them to avoid the area as the CPW investigation with La Plata County is not over yet. Wildlife officers worked throughout the night and into the morning in order to process all the evidence from the scene, along with looking for evidence to corroborate it was a wildlife attack.
After examining the sow’s teeth wildlife officers presumed, she was she over 10 years old.
This spring CPW has received a few reports from the Durango area of bears becoming unusually active. The majority of those have been sighting reports. On the 19th of April, a resident along the Animas River and La Plata County Road 250 filmed a single bear on his game camera and reported that the bear tore down his bird feeder. On the 23rd of March,
CPW received a report of a bear getting into trash east of Durango off Florida Road.
Notably, bears are active state-wide, thus it is extremely important to be aware of them.