3 documented deadly bear attacks in Colorado prior to woman killed near Durango

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife said deadly bear attacks are quite rare in the state after a woman was allegedly killed by a black bear and her cubs near Durango.

According to CPW, there have been three documented deadly bear attacks in Colorado:

July 25, 1971: A honeymooning couple was attacked while tent camping near Grand Lake in Grand County. A large older bear entered the tent, injured the woman and pulled the 31-year-old man away from the campsite. The man was killed. The bear was later found and destroyed. Further examination of the black bear found that it had worn, abscessed teeth and a plastic bucket in its stomach.

Aug. 10, 1993: A 24-year-old Buena Vista man was attacked and killed after a male bear broke into a camper 20 miles north of Cotopaxi in Fremont County, presumably in a search for food. The camper tried to stop the attack by shooting at the bear, but it only injured the animal. The bear was injured by a bullet that grazed its rib cage, possibly increasing the intensity of the attack. A 250-pound, very aggressive male black bear with a fresh bullet wound to the rib cage was trapped and destroyed six days later. A necropsy on the bear revealed human remains in its digestive system.

Aug. 7, 2009: A 74-year-old woman was killed and partially eaten by a bear or bears at her home near Ouray, in Ouray County. As sheriff’s deputies were investigating the scene, they were approached by a 250-pound, 5-year-old male black bear that exhibited aggressive behavior. Deputies shot and killed the bear after it approached them and showed no fear of people. Results of the necropsy on that bear were inconclusive as to whether it was involved in the original incident. Early the next morning, federal wildlife officers killed a 394-pound, mature male black bear that approached the home and exhibited aggressive behavior. A necropsy on the large older boar revealed human remains and remnants of clothing in its digestive system. A CPW investigation determined the victim illegally fed bears through a fence in her yard.

A 54-year-old man survived an attack by a bear inside a home in Aspen last summer. He said the bear knew how to open doors and just let itself in. At some point, the bear swiped the man with his paw leaving severe cuts to his face. 

“I literally thought I might be dead. It was a pretty humbling moment because I realized how vulnerable I was. There was nothing I could do,” he said.

A separate bear attack in Manitou Springs occurred the night before the Aspen incident. CPW said a mother and her cubs charged a woman, knocked her down and clawed her back.

The woman had three scratches on her back but was not seriously injured and did not go to the hospital.

According to Cody Wigner, CPW wildlife manager, the woman who was attacked is “very lucky” she wasn’t more seriously hurt.

CPW reminds Coloradans and visitors that bears are active statewide and it is important to be Bear Aware.

On Saturday, the city of Boulder tweeted a reminder to residents to secure your trash bins, compost containers and livestock.

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