An Alaska woman was injured last Saturday after being wounded on the bottom by a suspected black bear while using an outhouse.
Shannon Stevens, of Haines , was involved in the accident on a weekend trip to Chilkat Lake with her brother and his girlfriend. The trio traveled to the remote region and stayed in a yurt.
The woman told KTOO , a radio station serving Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, that she “jumped up and screamed” after a close encounter while on a toilet.
The woman’s brother, Erik Stevens, responded to her calls for help and they used a headlamp to investigate. After opening the lid, they claimed to have seen a “gigantic bear face” staring back at them from approximately an inch below the seat.
Shannon Stevens required bandages to stop bleeding but was not seriously injured. “It felt like just a single puncture. Maybe it wasn’t even a bite. It might have been a swipe with his claw potentially. I don’t think we’ll ever really know,” she told KTOO .
Earlier in the day, the trio had used a snowmachine on the frozen lake and cooked meat on an outdoor firepit , which Erik Stevens believed could have attracted the animal.
Explaining how a bear could have gained entry, he said: “There’s a way out in the back of the outhouse, there’s a rock wall and there’s a way for a creature to get in through that rock wall. He probably just pushed the rocks over and got down into the hole.”
The travelers told KTOO that the bear was not seen the following day, but they spotted tracks moving in the direction of the outhouse and the firepit was knocked over.
Carl Koch, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said he believed it was the work of a black bear—partially based on analysis of photos of the tracks.
“[Stevens] might be the only person this has ever happened to,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised over the years if other folks have had bizarre things—but during February to sit down in an outhouse and have something like that happen is very unusual.”
Some bears are attracted to outhouses by smell, and while bears are less active during the winter months they do not disappear completely, Koch told KTOO .
Earlier this month, a man was airlifted to hospital after being mauled by a bear while backcountry skiing with friends on a mountain near the Haines region. The U.S. Coast Guard said the victim sustained injuries to his head and hands during the attack.
Reflecting on the incident, Shannon Stevens said that her experience left her shocked rather than injured, but she was “definitely going to look down in the hole next time.”
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