Sad proof that it's not wise to feed wildlife:
Last week, a housekeeper found the partially eaten body of 74-year-old Donna Munson outside of Munson's Ouray County, Colo., home. Munson regularly fed nine bears, and had been repeatedly warned by officials to stop. Authorities have since determined that Munson was killed by a 394-lb male black bear. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports:
“We don’t know for sure, but what we feel it was one of the bears who regularly came to her residence,” (Ouray County Sheriff’s investigator Joel Burk) said.
Authorities believe Munson was standing on her porch, behind a seven-foot high wire fence she had built on the property, at the time of the attack. The wire fence includes holes, roughly 4 by 6 inches wide.
“We believe she was close enough to the fence for the bear to be able to reach through and make contact with her,” Burk said.
Munson appeared to have been dragged underneath the fence — multiple wounds were found to her head, torso, and legs, he said. Munson’s walker (her daughter told The Daily Sentinel she was in failing health and showed signs of dementia) was found on the porch, Burk said.
Bear attacks are extremely uncommon, especially lethal ones. This fatal attack is only the third recorded in Colorado. Back when I was a reporter working the bear beat at the Aspen Daily News, Colorado Division of Wildlife Spokesman Randy Hampton gave me the rundown on the two others:
In 1971, a newlywed on his honeymoon in Grand County was dragged out of his tent and killed by an older male black bear. When officials tracked down and killed the animal, they found it had worn, abscessed teeth and a plastic bucket in its stomach, indicating that it was probably desperate for food, Hampton said.
In 1993, a black bear broke into a camper in Fremont County and killed its 24-year-old male occupant after the young man fired off a shot that only grazed the bear's ribs.
However, black bear attacks tend to be more common than grizzly attacks, if only because there are more of the former in the lower 48. If you're morbid like me, you might find this comprehensive list of fatal bear attacks pretty interesting.