(KTXL) — Officials in Northern California have reason to suspect that a woman who died inside her Downieville home was visited by a bear sometime after she passed.

On Nov. 8, deputies with the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office were asked to perform a welfare check on Patrice Miller, 71, as she had not been seen or heard from in days. Responding deputies forced their way inside to find Miller deceased, along with evidence that suggested a “subsequent encounter with a bear,” the SCSO wrote in a Facebook post.

Investigators believe that Miller died before the “suspected bear encounter” inside her home. The sheriff’s office thinks the animal could have been drawn to the home by scent, among other possible factors.

“The Sierra County Sheriff’s Office extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Patrice Miller during this difficult time. The loss of a community member is always a tragedy, and our thoughts are with those affected by this unfortunate event,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

It’s unclear what type of bear was involved, though black bears are the only wild bear species in the state, according to the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

The agency said that CDFW is helping to investigate the incident.

The sheriff’s office asked those living nearby to use caution to prevent further bear encounters, by closing ground-level doors and windows at night, locking up their vehicles, and removing any food or garbage from easily accessible areas.