Bear was drawn to California woman’s home after she died, investigating deputies say

Authorities are investigating the death of a 71-year-old woman whose body was found last week inside her home in a Northern California mountain town, where investigators found evidence that suggests a bear entered her home after she died.

Someone called authorities last Wednesday to ask for deputies to check on Patrice Miller, who had not been seen or heard from in several days, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday in a Facebook post.

Deputies arrived and forced their way into her Downieville home, where they found Miller’s body. Sheriff’s officials said the preliminary investigation indicates Miller died before the bear entered her home.

Investigators believe the bear was possibly drawn to her by the scent or other factors. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is working with sheriff’s officials to investigate the circumstances surrounding Miller’s death.

“The cause of death is still under investigation, and the Sheriff’s Office is working with Fish and Wildlife to piece together the sequence of events leading up to this incident,” sheriff’s officials said.

Sheriff’s officials advised residents in the vicinity of Downieville to use caution and avoid potential encounters with all wildlife by closing ground-level doors and windows at night, locking vehicles and removing all food located outside their homes.