bear and two yearling cubs were later found near the woman’s body
(AFP via Getty Images)" />
Human remains have been found inside two bears who were suspected of killing and eating a dog walker who went missing in Colorado.
A 39-year-old woman was found dead and her body mauled north of Durango in southwestern Colorado on Friday in a “rare” attack, state wildlife officials said.
A 10-year-old female black bear and two yearling cubs were later found near the woman’s body and were euthanised over the suspected attack.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has now said a pathologist discovered human remains in the digestive systems of two of the black bears on Saturday.
No human remains were found in the stomach of a second yearling that was euthanised with the other two bears, the agency said in a press release on Sunday.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the boyfriend, family and friends of the woman we lost in this tragic event,” said Cory Chick, CPW’s regional manager, said in the announcement of the necropsy findings.
“We cannot determine with exact certainty how or why this attack took place, but it is important for the public not to cast blame on this woman for the unfortunate and tragic event.”
An autopsy of the woman’s body will be carried out on Tuesday and the coroner will determine the official cause of death and identify the remains.
The woman, who has not been identified, was believed to have gone walking with her dogs earlier Friday, according to her boyfriend.
Her partner began a search after he returned home around 8.30pm on Friday to find the couple’s dogs outside and the woman missing, he found her body an hour later on a local highway.
Wildlife officers determined that a bear attack may have occurred due to “obvious signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene.”
The agency explained that all three of the animals were euthanised in line with established CPW directives, saying human health and safety are the agency’s highest priority.
“Once a bear injures or consumes humans, we will not risk the chance that this could happen to someone else,” Mr Chick said. “We humanely euthanise that bear because of the severity of the incident.
“Bears will return to a food source over and over. A bear that loses its fear of humans is a dangerous animal. And this sow was teaching its yearlings that humans were a source of food, not something to fear and avoid.”
CPW’s wildlife pathologist found nothing abnormal about the bears during the initial examination and all appeared to be in good health with adequate fat stores.
However, further histopathology and rabies testing will take up to two weeks to completely rule out any signs of disease or other abnormalities.
“Whenever an animal is euthanised, we receive many questions about why that action was necessary,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow.
“Our responsibilities to the natural resources of the state are many, but we have no more important duty than to manage these resources in a manner that keeps Coloradans and our visitors safe.”