May 1 (UPI) -- A 39-year-old woman was found dead in Colorado Friday night after what officials are describing as a bear attack.
The woman's body was found off U.S. Highway 550 near Trimble, north of Durango, according to a press release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
"Bear attacks are extremely rare," Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager, said in the release. "This is a tragic event and a sad reminder that bears are wild and potentially dangerous. Out of an abundance of caution, the bears were removed for public safety. We ask the public to report any encounter with an aggressive bear to CPW."
The woman's name has not been released, but CPW said the death was reported by her boyfriend, who discovered her body at 9:30 p.m. and called 911.
He told authorities he'd last communicated with her late that morning, and that she had gone walking with their dogs earlier in the day.
At about 8:30 p.m., he discovered the dogs had come home, but she had not.
The La Plata County coroner will perform an autopsy next week to confirm the victim's identity and determine the official cause of death.
CPW officers said they found "signs of consumption on the body" and "an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene."
CPW, working with the La Plata County Sheriff's Office, called in a dog team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to search the area.
The dog team found a female black bear with two yearlings nearby.
The bears were euthanized and taken to CPW's Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins for a necropsy, and DNA evidence from the bears and the scene will be sent to Laramie, Wyo., for testing at the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic & Fish Health Laboratory.
Officials say, based on her teeth, the adult bear was more than 10 years old.
Chick has asked the public to avoid the area as CPW and La Plata County officials continue to investigate, looking for evidence to corroborate the claim that it was a wildlife attack.
CPW said it has received a few reports of bears becoming active this spring. Most have been sighting reports, but one resident captured video of a bear tearing down his bird feeder and another report described a bear getting into a trash can.
According to CPW, the last fatal bear attack in the state was in 2009, when a 74-year-old woman was killed and partially eaten by a bear or bears near Ouray, in Ouray County.
Sheriff's deputies were approached by a 250-pound, five-year-old male black bear as they investigated at the victim's home, and the next day federal wildlife officers killed a 394-pound, mature male black bear that approached the same home.
Both bears were killed; a necropsy of the larger bear found human remains and remnants of clothing in its digestive system.