A woman whose mutilated body was discovered after she went missing while out for a walk in the Colorado mountains was confirmed to have been mauled to death and fed on by a family of black bears on Tuesday.
The bears were hunted down and killed by wildlife police.
Laney Malavolta’s body was found by her boyfriend on Friday night (local time) in the town of Durango, about 560 kilometres south-west of Denver, in a place where she had often walked the couple’s two dogs, according to officials.
When the man returned home that evening to see the dogs outside without Malavolta, he went in search of her.
According to La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith, she died of “penetrating injuries to the neck,” including multiple bite marks, according to an autopsy.
According to a statement from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, wildlife officers found bear fur and urine at the scene, as well as signs of consumption on the body, leading them to suspect a bear attack.
According to the statement, wildlife officers used tracking dogs to locate a 10-year-old female bear and her two yearling cubs in the trees, and the three were euthanized.
Human bones were discovered in the digestive tracts of the mother bear and one cub during an examination of their carcasses at a state wildlife laboratory, according to the department. Those findings, along with the woman’s autopsy findings, confirmed her fate.
Colorado has a thriving population of almost 19,000 black bears. Human-fatal attacks are exceptionally rare, with only four reported in the state since 1960.
According to Cory Chick, the agency’s area boss, the protocol includes the euthanasia of all bears implicated in human attacks.
“A bear that loses its fear of humans is a dangerous animal,” Chick explained. “And this sow was teaching its yearlings that humans were a source of food, not something to fear and avoid”