Durango Woman Dead After Apparent Bear Attack Friday Night

Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers and La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies investigate the scene of a bear attack, May 1, 2021.

A 39-year-old woman is dead after what officials say was a bear attack north of Durango.

The woman's boyfriend found her body Friday night after returning home to find her missing and her two dogs outside the house. He searched for her and called 911 around 9:30 p.m. after finding her.

The woman, a Durango resident, went walking with her dogs that evening, according to information the boyfriend provided to the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office. He last talked to her earlier that morning. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers found bear scat and hair at the scene, as well as observed what they called “signs of consumption” on the woman’s body. A dog team later found a female black bear with two cubs nearby. The bears were euthanized, then underwent necropsies for signs of the attack.

Authorities say they found human remains inside the bears' stomachs during that exam. An initial analysis of the bear’s teeth indicate it was likely older than 10. CPW said the cubs had to be killed because they were taught to view humans as food.

“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” said Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager, in a press 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 CPW.”

The wildlife agency has received reports of bears in Durango this spring. Most were sightings, but on April 19, a bear tore down a bird feeder in the area, and a month later, a bear got into a trash bin east of Durango off Florida Road.