ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska woman had the scare of a lifetime when using an outhouse in the backcountry and she was attacked by a bear, from below.
“I got out there and sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt right as I sat down,” Shannon Stevens told The Associated Press on Thursday. “I jumped up and I screamed when it happened.”
Stevens, her brother Erik and his girlfriend had taken snowmobiles into the wilderness Feb. 13 to stay at his yurt, located about 20 miles northwest of Haines, in southeast Alaska.
Her brother heard the screaming and went out to the outhouse, about 150 feet (45.72 meters) away from the yurt. There, he found Shannon tending to her wound. They at first thought she had been bitten by a squirrel or a mink, or something small.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Management Biologist Carl Koch suspects it was a black bear based upon photos of the tracks he saw and the fact that a neighbor living about a half-mile away sent him a photo of a black bear on her property two days later.
That homeowner yelled at the bear but it didn’t react. It also didn’t approach her but lumbered about its business, like it was in a walking hibernation mode.
Even though it’s winter, Koch said they get calls all year round about bears being out.
And 2020 was a record year for general bear problems in the Haines area. Reasons for that, he said, could include the fact it was a poor salmon run year combined with a mediocre berry crop. “It is also possible a bear couldn’t put on enough fat when they go in the den, that they might be out and about more often or earlier,” he said.
Koch suspects Shannon’s wound was caused by the bear swatting at her with a paw rather than being bitten. Either way, the location might be a first.
“As far as getting swatted on the butt when you’re sitting down in winter, she could be the only person on Earth that this has ever happened to, for all I know,” Koch said.
No matter the season, Erik says he’ll carry bear spray with him all the time when going into the backcountry, and Shannon plans to change one behavior as well.