CPW wildlife officers and La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies investigate the scene of a suspected bear attack near Durango.(Handout)

Wildlife said it’s likely the bears would have attacked humans again if they were not euthanized.

This story was originally published in the Colorado Sun.

Human remains were discovered in the digestive systems of two bears suspected of committing a rare fatal attack on a 39-year-old woman on Friday near Durango.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife say the remains, discovered during a necropsy, were in a 204-pound female bear and one of two yearlings that were found with her. All three bears appeared to be healthy.

The woman’s name hasn’t been released. She told her boyfriend she was taking her dogs for a walk on Friday morning. When she wasn’t home when he returned Friday evening, he went searching and found her body.

The bears were found by authorities nearby and euthanized.

“We cannot determine with exact certainty how or why this attack took place, but it is important for the public not to cast blame on this woman for the unfortunate and tragic event,” Cory Chick, CPW southwest region manager, said in a written statement. “There are inherent risks anyone takes when venturing outdoors. That could be from wildlife, the landscape, weather events or other circumstances one cannot plan for.”

Chick said it’s likely the bears would have attacked humans again if they were not euthanized.

“Once a bear injures or consumes humans, we will not risk the chance that this could happen to someone else,” he said. “We humanely euthanize that bear because of the severity of the incident. Bears will return to a food source over and over. A bear that loses its fear of humans is a dangerous animal. And this sow was teaching its yearlings that humans were a source of food, not something to fear and avoid.” 

There are as many as 20,000 black bears living in Colorado. The last fatal bear attack in Colorado happened in 2009.