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The first-ever fatal black bear attack victim in California state history is confirmed to be a woman.

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Wildlife officials have determined that the lady discovered dead inside her Northern California house last year was the victim of the state’s first known fatal black bear attack on a human, marking a tragic and historic first for California.

On November 8, 2023, Patrice Miller, 71, of Downieville, a town around 100 miles northeast of Sacramento, was found dead at her residence. Miller had not been seen or heard from for a few days when deputies from the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office performed a welfare check.

USA TODAY was notified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that Miller was murdered by a black bear attack. After the attack, the offending animal was captured and put down. According to CDFW spokesperson Peter Tira, “this is the first known, documented fatal attack by a black bear in California history.”

At first, the authorities thought Miller’s bear had entered his house after his death. On Thursday, though, the government declared that a coroner had concluded that the bear was, in fact, the reason of her demise.

According to Sierra County Sheriff Mike Fisher, when investigators found Miller’s body on the porch, they saw a damaged door and bear scat. These were among the first indications of bear penetration, Fisher told KCRA-TV on Wednesday. “It appeared that the bear had probably been there several days and had been feeding on the remains,” Fisher said.

Miller was killed by a bear swat or bite to the neck, according to the autopsy. The Mountain Messenger was the first to publish the autopsy results in May.


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