California woman was harassed by black bear before fatal mauling

Patrice Miller, 71, had been harassed by an aggressive black bear in her small Northern California town for months before it broke into her home and killed her last year. 

When officials first found Miller’s body mauled and partially eaten last November in her Downieville home, they first believed she may have died of natural causes and the bear broke in, attracted by the scent.

But neighbors had reported seeing the bear, which she had dubbed "Big B---ard," repeatedly returning to her house, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Miller even installed steel bars across her windows to try to keep the bear out before it broke her door down, the newspaper reported. 

Miller’s death is the first documented fatal black bear attack on a human in the Golden State.

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

Sierra County Sheriff's deputies found Miller’s door broken, which appeared to be how the bear got inside.

Inside her living room, there was bear scat along with blood streaks and paw prints. 

The bear had likely pulled Miller from her bed into her living room, the coroner’s report said, according to the Bee.

The small mountain town is "right in the middle of where bears like to be," Catilin Roddy of California Fish and Wildlife’s North-Central region told the newspaper. 

Miller’s friend Cassie Koch, who initially asked for a welfare check on her, told the Bee: "When I was a kid, you never saw a bear in town. Now, they’re all over, making their rounds. It’s easy pickins for them."

Koch said Miller had wanted the bear to be removed but not hurt before it killed her. 

Koch told the newspaper that Miller had a vegetable garden and compost and didn't always throw her trash out immediately, which officials said could have attracted the bear to her home. 

Around 40% of California’s estimated 65,000 black bears live in the Sierra Nevadas where Downieville is located, according to the paper.

The bear was eventually trapped and euthanized.