A 71-year-old man found dead more than two months after disappearing while hiking with his dog in southwest Colorado died as a result of hypothermia, officials said Thursday.
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The dog survived but lost half of her body weight as a result of the ordeal.
Richard Moore of Pagosa Springs was reported missing Aug. 19, the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office said. He and his 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier Finney, disappeared after venturing into the Blackhead Peak area.
Officials told USA TODAY that’s where Moore planned to climb the 12,500-foot mountain.
On Oct. 30, the sheriff’s office said, a hunter found Moore’s body in the Lower Blanco drainage basin.
Archuleta County Coroner Brad Hunt told USA TODAY Moore’s cause of death was hypothermia. His manner of death, Hunt determined, was an accident.
More:Missing Colorado hiker’s dog found alive, waiting by owner’s body after months in wilderness
Dog survived despite losing more than half its body weight
Prior to finding Moore’s body, authorities said they spent nearly 2,000 hours searching for the man and his faithful companion along the rugged terrain in the San Juan Mountains area about 35 miles north of the New Mexico state line.
Ryan Foster, a sheriff’s office spokesperson, reported a hunter found the man’s body and a dog guarding it, the Denver Gazette reported.
Finney wore a purple collar with her name on it, the outlet reported, and the dog was so emaciated the coller “was drooping off of her neck.” Eventually, the outlet said, they were able to lure the dog away from her owner’s body with a a can of wet dog food.
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The dog and his late companion were then flown off the mountain by a recovery team.
Taos Search and Rescue President Delinda VanneBrightyn, who aided in the search, told the Associated Press Finney initially weighed 12 pounds, but had dropped to six pounds by the time she was rescued.
Finney has since been reunited with Moore’s family.
VanneBrighty could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday morning.
Contributing: Amaris Encinas and The Associated Press
Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.