California records first fatal black bear attack

A black bear sits in a tree just north of Vineyard Jr. High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Ca., Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (Photo by John Valenzuela/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images)

A woman found dead last year in a mountain community was the victim of the first documented fatal black bear attack on a human in California, authorities said.

The death occurred in Downieville, a tiny town in the Sierra Nevada, two hours northeast of the state capital, Sacramento TV station KCRA reported Wednesday.

On Nov. 8, Sierra County sheriff’s deputies checking on the welfare of a resident who hadn’t been seen for a few days found a broken door and bear scat on the porch, Sheriff Mike Fisher told the station. Inside were the remains of Patrice Miller, 71.


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"It appeared that the bear had probably been there several days and had been feeding on the remains," Fisher said.

It was initially believed that Miller died before the arrival of the bear and that it may have been drawn by the scent.

Meanwhile, there were many reports from concerned citizens about a bear repeatedly returning to the house. A state depredation permit was issued and a bear was trapped on the property and euthanized, according to Fisher.

Then came the findings of Miller’s autopsy, which were first reported by The Mountain Messenger, a local weekly newspaper.