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A California woman who died last fall was killed by a black bear, not mauled after her death as authorities originally suspected, according to autopsy reports released in May. State officials say the death is the state’s first documented case of a fatal black bear attack on a human.

The body of Patrice Miller, 71, was discovered in her Downieville, California, home on Nov. 8 by sheriff’s deputies who were asked to check on the woman after she had not been heard from for several days. They arrived to find a broken door and bear scat on the porch. Miller’s body was discovered inside the house.

“It appeared that the bear had probably been there several days and had been feeding on the remains,” Sierra County Sheriff Mike Fisher told KCRA-3 TV.

Officials initially believed that Miller died of natural causes before the bear broke in, but an autopsy report released in May showed that the cause of death was due to “a bear mauling or a swipe and a bite to the neck area,” Fisher said.

Miller’s daughter told officers that “bears were constantly trying to get in through broken windows and that her mother had physically hit one to keep it from entering her residence,” according to a sheriff’s office report. “A bear her mother named ‘big bastard’ was a frequent visitor to the residence.”

Even after authorities cleared the scene, the bear returned to the home daily, and The California Department of Fish and Wildlife eventually trapped a bear on the property. According to The Mountain Messenger newspaper, which first reported the autopsy results, CDFW officials wanted to release the bear, which they thought was female, because DNA testing at the scene suggested the responsible bear was male. After the sheriff placed a padlock on the trap and threatened to alert the media of the impending release, a biologist was called in to tranquilize the bear, and it was examined and found to be male. It was then euthanized. A DNA comparison conducted by CDFW confirmed that the bear was responsible for Miller’s death, the paper reported.

“Authorities initially believed the bear had entered the woman’s house after she had died,” the CDFW said in a statement to People on June 2, “but the coroner’s report confirmed that, ultimately, the bear caused the woman’s death. … This incident is the first known, documented fatal attack by a black bear in California history.”

Bears have continued to be a presence in Downieville, a mountain community of less than 300 people in the Sierra Nevadas. In May, another male bear was killed by deputies after trying to break into local homes and the school gym while children were present. “Sheriff Fisher expresses deep regret over the necessity of this action but emphasizes that the safety of Sierra County residents remains the utmost priority”, the office said in a press release. “Efforts will continue to educate the community about bear safety measures and to collaborate with relevant authorities to prevent similar incidents in the future.”