An Auburn woman got the surprise of her life on an otherwise calm afternoon last week when a cinnamon-colored California Black Bear showed up in her yard while she was sitting outside.
"All of the sudden, crash, bang through those bushes and all the dry leaves," is how Kay Sharp described the encounter.
Sharp said the bear came within 15 feet of where she was sitting.
"I was knocking stuff over to get up and get into the house."
The bear wandered away from the property without doing any damage.
Bear encounters in Auburn have made news two other times in recent weeks. In one case, a resident shot and killed a bear, claiming self defense after the animal killed some of his chickens and approached him and his dog. Other Auburn residents captured pictures of a mother and cubs within the city a few weeks ago.
Sharp contacted an Auburn Police dispatcher after her bear sighting.
"She said we get reports of bears all the time," Sharp said of the conversation with the dispatcher.
"Especially in the Auburn area," agreed Andrew Hughan of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "It's literally right on the edge of bear habitat, right on the edge of open space. So it's not unusual to see bears at all in Auburn."
Hughan said this is the time of year when bears are trying to bulk up for the winter, and they will eat just about anything they can find. But they tend to be afraid of people and dogs. They are easily scared away by loud noises. And Hughan further pointed out, there has never been a fatal black bear attack on a human recorded in the history of California.
The bear that wandered through the Sharps' yard in Auburn did not get into any food or garbage. In cases where bears do get into trash, Hughan calls it a "people problem, not a bear problem," emphasizing the importance of stashing trash and pet food indoors, or in locked containers where bears cannot access it.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife offers online tips about how to be "bear aware" here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Bear