Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Bear blamed for death of woman, 74

A 74-year-old US woman who was known for leaving food outside her home for bears - despite several warnings that it was illegal and dangerous to do so - was killed by one of the animals, a post mortem confirmed.

Donna Munson's body had been partially eaten by a bear or bears when it was found outside her home in Ouray County, in southwestern Colorado, on Friday, but Colorado Division of Wildlife officials couldn't immediately confirm what caused her death.

County Sheriff Dominic Mattivi said that a post mortem, performed in neighbouring Montrose County, showed Ms Munson had scratches and maul marks consistent with being attacked by a bear.

She had no signs of heart damage, ruling out the possibility that she died of a heart attack before being attacked, Mr Mattivi said.

State wildlife officers had received "numerous" complaints during the past decade that Ms Munson was feeding bears. But she never was ticketed, partly because wooded hills around her property made it hard to gather evidence to prove it, said division spokesman Tyler Baskfield.

"It's a well-known fact that people were feeding (bears) at this residence," Mr Baskfield said.

A letter from the Division of Wildlife to Ms Munson dated April 7, 2008, said officers talked with her at least three times between July 22, 2004 and September 13, 2007, about Colorado laws that prohibit placing feed out for bears.

Mr Baskfield said Ms Munson started ignoring wildlife officers' calls and stopped letting them on her property, and views from neighbours' homes were obscured by the foliage.

Authorities aren't sure whether the bear that killed Ms Munson is still roaming the neighbourhood.

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