DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4) – An autopsy expected to come out this week could confirm what will be the fourth death in Colorado history related to a black bear attack. The last known communication from the victim, a 39-year-old woman, last Friday was to her boyfriend.

She went to walk her dogs in the morning near County Road 203 and Trimble Lane north of Durango.

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File (credit: CPW)

“The boyfriend returned home about 8:30 p.m. and saw the dogs in the yard, and it had been a long time since he last heard from his girlfriend, so we went out searching the area,” Jason Clay, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Public Information Officer said.

Sadly, the man who called for help was the one who discovered his girlfriend’s body.

“There was consumption on the body, and there was a lot of bear sign in the area,” Clay explained.

Officials with CPW were notified, they suspect it was a bear attack. Trained dogs were called in to track down the bears believed to have been involved.

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“The necropsy showed that the sow, which is the mother bear had human remains in the digestive track and one of the two yearlings also had human remains, a third one, another of the yearlings did not have human remains in their digestive track,” Clay said.

CPW is still waiting for an autopsy report to learn the official cause of death. Clay told CBS4 there has been a lot of questions raised about whether the woman had a medical emergency or if she was attacked first.

File (credit: CPW)

“This case is really unfortunate. We’re not going to know the why or how this encounter took place,” he said.

Anytime a bear attacks or consumes human remains, CPW has a policy that requires the animal to be euthanized. Relocation does not always work because there can be too many bears, and some will come back to the same location.

“Everyone has beliefs and opinions and there’s nothing wrong with that, and not everybody has to agree with what we do but we cannot have a bear or a mountain lion that has killed, attacked to keep out there,” he added.

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As a reminder Clay said, even if someone is out to walk their dogs near the foothills, or out in communities like Roxborough or Ken Carlyle, it’s a good idea to bring protection, even potentially bear spray.