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Woman dead in California was victim of state’s first known fatal black bear attack

In World
June 07, 2024

A 71-year-old woman found dead in her small mountain community in the Sierra Nevada was the victim of California’s first-ever known fatal black bear attack, wildlife officials said this week.

When Patrice Miller was found dead in Downieville in November, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office said it believed a bear went into the woman’s home after she died. But an autopsy recently confirmed the bear killed her, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

“This incident is the first known, documented fatal attack by a black bear in California history,” the department said in a statement.

Miller was found Nov. 8 in Downieville, which has a population of around 290 and is about 50 miles northwest of Lake Tahoe, after sheriff’s deputies conducted a welfare check.

A preliminary investigation indicated she died before the bear went to the home, the sheriff’s office said at the time.

The state wildlife department said Thursday that “the coroner’s report confirmed that, ultimately, the bear caused the woman’s death.”

The bear mauled Miller, the wildlife department said. The animal was trapped and killed, and DNA confirmed it was responsible for the mauling, it said.

There are about 35,000 black bears in California, up from around 10,000 to 15,000 in 1982, according to the state wildlife department, and they are the subject of a state conservation plan.

Adult male black bears can weigh around 400 pounds, and females are usually between 100 to 300 pounds, the department says on its website. They are the only type of bear in California — although they’re not always black, and can be cinnamon brown.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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