A 39-year-old Colorado woman took her dogs for a walk Friday morning and failed to return. That night, her boyfriend returned from work to find the dogs outside their Durango home and the woman nowhere to be seen, the Durango Herald reports. He ultimately discovered her body. Authorities think she was fatally attacked by a black bear, and necropsies performed on the female bear and two yearlings found nearby suggest that was indeed the case. An autopsy will be performed as well, USA Today reports. "Wildlife officers responded and observed signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene," a state Parks and Wildlife rep said. The bears were euthanized. Necropsies found human remains in the stomachs of the female and one of the yearlings, the Herald reports, with the wildlife pathologist noting the bears displayed healthy levels of body fat.
The last time a bear killed a person in Colorado was 2009, and in that case it was determined the elderly victim had illegally fed bears near her property. A Colorado Parks and Wildlife regional manager emphasizes that bear attacks are "extremely rare." Authorities say people can help to protect themselves by making noise as they walk outside, walk with another person, or use bear spray or air horns. If a bear is encountered, they say, it's best to remain still, make sure the bear has an escape route, and if it doesn't leave, slowly wave your arms over your head to make yourself appear bigger while speaking to the bear in a normal voice and backing away slowly. If attacked, however, it's time to yell, throw rocks, and do whatever you can to fight. (Read more bear attack stories.)