A polar bear surprised two women in a tent on Alaska's Barter Island but left when one of them yelled at the animal.

Fifty-one-year-old Marie Rexford and her 81-year-old mother, both of nearby Kaktovik, had spent the night at a fish camp along Alaska's northern coast and were making coffee Thursday when the polar bear put a paw on the canvas tent.

Marie Rexford's daughter, Flora Rexford, tells the Alaska Dispatch News that her mother called out, grabbed a rifle and bolted out the tent door.

She says the bear by that time was walking toward the Beaufort Sea. It picked up the pace as Rexford continued to yell.

Federal researchers say bear-human encounters likely will increase as climate warming melts more sea ice, where polar bears hunt.