A woman was found dead in Durango, Colorado, on Friday night after officials said she was attacked by a bear, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Saturday.
“This is a tragic event and a sad reminder that bears are wild and potentially dangerous,” CPW Southwest Region Manager Corey Chick said in a statement.
The 39-year-old woman, whose identity has not yet been revealed, went for a walk with her two dogs on Friday, the woman’s boyfriend told the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office. The boyfriend said that when he returned to their home that evening, the woman was not there, but the two dogs were. While searching for her, he found her body near a local highway and reported the incident.
CPW wildlife officials and La Plata County Sheriff̵
“Out of sheer caution, the bears have been removed for public safety,” Chick said. “We ask the public to report to CPW any encounter with an aggressive bear.”
The investigation continues and Chick has asked residents to avoid nearby areas.
Chick said that although bear attacks were “extremely rare”, CPW had received reports that bears were becoming active again this spring.
According to the CPW, there are about 19,000 polar bears in Colorado. A study published by the National Medical Library found that large carnivorous attacks on humans in developed countries have increased over the past decade. The study also found that spring and summer are the seasons that show the highest levels of attacks. However, the study authors note that these attacks are “rare compared to human deaths from other wild animals.”
CPW advises residents to bring sheltered homes from their homes, to carry bear spray during hiking and camping, and to avoid eating wildlife.
“Every time we are forced to destroy a bear, it’s not just the bear that loses. We all lose a little bit of wildlife that makes Colorado so special,” CPW said on its website. “So please learn to protect the bears.”