DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado is not the country’s biggest hotspot for fatal bear attacks, but it is the contiguous United States’ number one states for wild black bear fatalities.
A trio of black bears is suspected of killing and eating a Durango woman sometime during the weekend of May 1. Two of the three suspected bears had human remains in their digestive systems.
This is the fourth deadly bear attack in Colorado since 1900 – all of them perpetrated by black bears.
Bear attacks are exceptionally rare in North America, rarer in the contiguous U.S. and rarer still from black bears. Only 16 states have had fatal bear attacks happen in their borders, and only five of those have had multiple fatal attacks.
The FOX31 Data Desk focused only on attacks in the United States responsible by wild brown or black bears. It does not include deaths by captive bears, polar bears or deaths elsewhere in North America.
There have been twice as many fatal wild brown bear attacks in the U.S. in the last 120 years than there have been black bear – 47 brown bear deaths to 24 black bear.
Attacks take place mainly in the Rocky Mountain states.
Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona represent half of the country’s deadly black and brown bear attacks, while Alaska alone represents a third.
Alaska alone has a reported 25 black and brown bear attack fatalities since 1900. Because polar bears are only native in Alaska, they were not included in Data Desk’s nationwide comparison.
If you combine the bear deaths in Montana and Wyoming it surpasses the number in Alaska. Montana has had 18 bear fatalities and Wyoming 11.
While deadly bear attack are more common in Montana and Wyoming than in Colorado, black bear attacks are more common in the Centennial State.
Homes to various state and national parks including Yellowstone National Park, all but one reported bear attack fatality in Montana and Wyoming has been a brown bear.
Colorado, by contrast, has never reported a brown bear attack death.
All four of the state’s historical bear attack deaths have been black bears. This makes it the deadliest state in the continental US for black bear attacks.