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Woman killed by bear she had been feeding

August 11, 2009 |  1:37 pm

A road sign acknowledges the presence of bears.

A woman who had been warned about the perils of feeding bears was killed by one of the animals.

Donna Munson, a resident of Ouray County, Colo., was found dead outside of her home last week, her body mauled and partially eaten.

According to Joel Burk, Ouray County Sheriff's investigator, Munson died of multiple traumas. The wounds were consistent with being attacked by a bear.

A bear shot and killed near the woman's home is believed to be the one that attacked her. Though a necropsy showed that the mammal appeared to have been feeding on a human based on its stomach contents, the results are still inconclusive pending results of a DNA test.

"We don't know for sure, but we feel it was one of the bears who regularly came to her residence," Burk said in a Grand Junction Sentinel article.

Munson had been warned repeatedly that it is illegal and dangerous to feed bears, but continued to do so.

Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Tyler Baskfield told Associated Press that there were numerous complaints received about Munson feeding bears, but she had never been ticketed due to the difficulty of gathering evidence because her property is in a heavily wooded area and obscured by foliage.

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

"Wildlife lovers may believe they are helping bears by feeding them, but the opposite is true," added Baskfield. "Feeding bears can teach them to look for food around humans. They are no longer wild animals at that point -- they're no longer behaving the way they should."

This is a tragic reminder that wild animals need to be treated as such, and those encountering them -- be it when hiking, camping, fishing or even at home -- should keep their distance. 

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A road sign acknowledges the presence of bears. Credit: Eric Gay / Associated Press