Bear rips through Gig Harbor fence as homeowner looks on

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GIG HARBOR, Washington —

A Gig Harbor woman watched Tuesday as a bear tore through her backyard fence, just a few feet away from where she was standing.

The woman said that now, she and her neighbors want action because bear sightings have become an everyday occurrence.

“I looked in there, and oh my gosh it’s a bear,” Sharon Burkhart told KIRO 7’s Kevin McCarty.

She said the bear tore through the fence and walked toward her. Her biggest concern was her dog, which was barking furiously.

“The bear stood up against the fence and just leaned forward, (and) the fence just split apart,” she said.

As she watched, the bear calmly walked right toward her.

“I was standing probably about here with my mouth hanging open – the bear just comes walking right up toward me, and all I’m thinking about is this dog,” she said, standing in her backyard. “The bear comes walking up to about five feet from me, but it wasn’t charging. It was just sort of sauntering up.”

The bear then turned and calmly walked away.

It was a close encounter that neighbors said is becoming all too common in the posh area of Gig Harbor. Bears – including a mother and two cubs – are becoming a common sight as they look for food in backyard fruit groves and trash cans.

Burkhart said she’s becoming concerned the bears are getting far too comfortable around their human neighbors, and it could lead to trouble.

“The bears are just seeming a little thick around here now, and this is where my little grandchildren come out and play,” she said.

She added that she reported her encounter to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Officials there told McCarty there are currently no plans to trap any of the bears, but wildlife officers are monitoring the situation to determine what action is needed.