Talk about a lousy way to end your day. One Alaska woman says that she was using her outhouse when a black bear bit her in the butt.
It’s called personal space. Especially considering that is a sacred time.
Shannon Stevens spent the weekend with her brother and his girlfriend in a remote part of Chilkat Lake, nearly 17 miles from Haines. Stevens is a Haines resident.
The weekend was going great. The family went snowmobiling across the lake and had a campfire dinner, but at the end of the night, Stevens had to use the bathroom before going to bed.
She left the tiny home and walked to the outhouse.
According to Travel Alaska, black bears generally are not out during the winter, so it was odd for Stevens to run into one… literally.
“Black bears hibernate in the winter, so you won’t see them then. Generally, they hibernate in fall and come out in spring. In some of the southernmost areas, they may emerge during a warm winter, whereas in the Far North, they can hibernate for seven to eight months.”
Not Something You Generally See in a Toilet
The encounter shocked Stevens as well. Yeah! We can imagine.
“Normally, when we are out there in the summer or the fall, I’m used to shouting ‘Hey, bear!’ the whole way. It was the dead of winter, so I didn’t think to do that this time,” Stevens said. “I got in there and sat down on the toilet seat, and something just immediately bit me in the butt. I jumped up and screamed.”
The Alaska native screamed and called for her brother, Erik. He came running to his sister’s aid. When he reached the outhouse, Erik opened the toilet lid and was shocked at what sat waiting for him.
“I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m going to open the lid and look.’ I take the headlamp, and I grab the lid of the toilet seat, and I lift it up,” Erik Stevens said. “Right at the level of the toilet seat, maybe an inch or two below is a gigantic bear face looking right back up at me.”
Although Shannon Stevens was not seriously injured, her booty was bleeding. The two ran back to the house where her brother was the unlucky winner of tending to her wounds.
Stevens was tough, though. We would have been running for the hills while screaming bloody murder.
“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 that part.”
The family made the wise decision to stay put in the house until daylight. When the sun finally rose, the two went to check on the toilet bear. It was gone. However, the fire pit was knocked over, and tracks were discovered.
Erik believes the black bear smelt the food cooking on the fire and wanted to partake in the festivities. He also says there was an opening in the back of the outhouse for the bear to get in.
“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.”
After hearing about the incident, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game opened an investigation led by biologist Carl Koch. Upon looking at the photos Erik took of the tracks, Koch also believes the culprit was a black bear. He reveals that other people in the area have reported bear activity as well.
In addition, Koch said this is a once-in-a-lifetime incident.
“[She] might be the only person this has ever happened to,” Koch 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.”
A lesson has been learned in all this. One is to be thankful for indoor pumping, and two is something Shannon will never forget.
“I mean, I’m definitely going to look down in the hole next time,” Stevens said.