Woman Killed In Bear Attack Near Durango Identified
A woman who was reportedly killed in a bear attack near Durango last week has been identified.
39-year-old Laney Malavolta, who lived north of Durango, was walking her dogs last Friday night (Apr. 30) when she was attacked.
Once Malavolta didn't return home, her boyfriend started searching for her; he came across the victim's body several hours later off of U.S. 550 near Trimble (north of Durango) and called 911.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers found signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair upon arriving at the scene; Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers later euthanized a female bear and her two yearlings after tracking them down close to where Malavolta's body was found. The bears were euthanized in accordance with established CPW directives.
The bears were then taken to the Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins for an autopsy. Over the weekend, officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife discovered human remains inside of the bears' stomachs.
No human remains were found in the stomach of a second yearling euthanized with the other two.
The La Plata County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy and identified the victim as 39-year-old Laney Malavolta on Tuesday (May 4).
Following the autopsy, the La Plata County Sheriff's Office officially determined that Malavolta died as the result of the bear attack. La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith said her official cause of death was a "penetrating wound to the neck." The manner of death has been ruled an accident.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the boyfriend, family and friends of the woman we lost in this tragic event,” said Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager. “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."
All three bears were reportedly in good body condition with adequate fat stores appropriate for the season (black bears typically lose between 20-27 percent of their body fat during hibernation), according to CPW.
“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” Chick said. “This is a tragic event and a sad reminder that bears are wild and potentially dangerous. Out of an abundance of caution, the bears were removed for public safety. We ask the public to report any encounter with an aggressive bear to CPW.”
This was the first fatal bear attack in Colorado since August 2009, according to CPW.
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