It pains me to write this.
If only our blogger Ted Alvarez were not on vacation. And if only people would heed his constant advice–and that of every other expert over the last half century–not to feed bears, or make them pets, or do anything else with them but respect their size and power.
Last Friday, a visitor discovered 70+ year-old Donna Munson's body being fed upon by a bear near her home in in Ouray, Colorado. For 10 years Munson, and others at the household, had been feeding bears near the porch–despite repeated warnings from police and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. A wire fence was erected on the porch as a means of protection by the household, reported CBS4Denver and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Sheriff's deputies investigating the incident were approached by an aggressive, five-year-old, 250-pound bear (the type was not identified) which they subsequently shot and killed. A necropsy, an autopsy of animals, performed by Colorado State University Diagnostic Lab in Grand Junction could not determine whether the bear was involved in feeding on Munson's body. Sheriff's deputies also shot and killed a second 394-pound bear at the household; it has not been confirmed whether the larger bear killed Munson. An autopsy performed on Munson, and released on Monday, revealed that the cause of death was mauling.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife–which vigorously supports an anti-bear feeding education campaign and uses the slogan "a fed bear is a dead bear"– threatened legal action against the woman's household last year for repeatedly denying their warnings. Several previous bears were also trapped on the property and later euthanized.
While most people do everything in their power to avoid interacting with bears (we receive multiple letters a month on this very topic; see our Ask the Expert section for various bear-related Q&As with Medicine Man Buck Tilton), this case is just another reminder why feeding bears is NEVER a good idea.
This is the kind of news that we hate to report. Please, please, please, use extreme caution around bears. For two great methods on keeping bears clear of campsites and people check out our videos on how to hang a bear bag and use a bear canister, measures required in most backcountry sites.