LILLOOET, British Columbia, July 4 (UPI) -- Canadian officials say they will soon know if a black bear is responsible for the death of a woman in British Columbia.
The discovery of the woman's remains has the markings of a bear attack, but it's possible the woman was already dead and was partially consumed by a bear that happened to find her body, the Canadian QMI Agency reported.
Officials said blood and eyeglasses were found outside the woman's home near Lillooet, in central British Columbia, with human remains not far away. The woman, in her 70s, was an elder in the British Columbia First Nations tribe.
"Dragging is often times a part of predation -- the bear tries to move whatever it wants to eat to a spot that it feels more comfortable in," said Stephen Herrero, a University of Calgary professor who conducted a study that concluded black bears are increasingly hunting humans.
"It sounds like it could have been a predatory fatal attack, because the body was moved and the body was fed on -- it could have been scavenging, but it sounds like maybe it's not."
Herrero said a forensic examination of the remains will determine if the woman was already dead before being mostly consumed by the bear. Wildlife officials have killed four bears in the area and will examine them for human remains.
Herrero's study was published earlier this year in the Journal of Wildlife Management. It detailed bear attacks across North America from 1900 to 2009 and indicated bear attacks have increased as humans encroached into their habitat. Since 1900, 63 people were killed in 59 attacks in the United States and Canada, with 86 percent of the fatalities occurring since 1960.