REDMOND, Wash. - A toddler in Redmond gave her mom a scare after spotting a black bear in the yard, then running towards the animal for a potential hug.
The ordeal was captured on home security video. A small black bear can be seen running along the cement wall lining the backyard, and the toddler squeals when she sees it.
"Juniper, come back inside," mother Samantha Martin says as she follows behind.
"That's a bear!" the girl exclaims as she runs.
Martin is then seen on the video chasing and grabbing her toddler and running inside.
She says they had been watching a movie at the family's home when her 2-year-old spotted what looked like a furry friend in their backyard.
The toddler had secretly unlocked the patio door and was quickly on the move.
"It started running across the fence and she chased it," said Martin. She sprinted after her child when she realized what was happening.
"I just panicked. I didn’t really have a lot of thoughts in the moment so much as get the child and get back inside," she said.
Martin said the little bear ran away, but she was more concerned about the momma bear lurking around.
"It was just a little baby bear, but my biggest concern wasn’t necessarily the baby bear so much as I didn’t know where the mom was and didn’t know how she’d feel about two humans running towards her baby," said Martin.
Juniper loves reading and has recently been learning from an animal identification book, her mom says, and that bears are her favorite animal.
"I think she was just excited to see something from her book," said Martin.
The bear, for its part, had been feasting on the seeds in a now-destroyed bird feeder in the family’s yard.
"The bear had pulled it down or ripped it or loosened it," Martin said.
The family’s home does sit near a greenway and golf course in Redmond where wildlife likes to roam.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says this time of year, bears are emerging from their winter dens, hungry and in search of calories. During this time, officials are asking people to secure unnatural food sources to reduce bear encounters.
"Bird feeders can provide a real attractant for bears and other wildlife… …take down your bird feeders in the spring," said Chase Gunnell, Puget Sound Region Communications Manager, WDFW.
Martin has since had a talk with Juniper about wildlife. "I did tell her the bear was dangerous and we’ve been watching National Geographic," she said.
She also said she’s planning to get a child-locking device for the patio door and she says the feeder is also permanently coming down.
"I love birds, but I also don’t want bears to continuously come into the yard, so I’m not putting the bird seed back up," said Martin.