Does a bear sit in the woods, waiting for you to poop?
An Alaska woman learned the answer to that question the hard way last week when a bear bit her bum from inside an outhouse toilet in the state’s backcountry.
Shannon Stevens was staying at a remote yurt with her brother, Erik, and his girlfriend when the awkward close encounter occurred on Feb. 13. She told The Associated Press that she had left the yurt to relieve herself at the outhouse some 150 feet away, and did not check the seat before sitting down.
“I got out there and sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt right as I sat down,” she told the AP.
“I jumped up and screamed when it happened.”
Erik came running out of the yurt at the sound of Shannon’s screams and spotted her nursing her bear-bitten behind in the snow.
“She was still standing there with her pants down,” Erik told the Anchorage Daily News. “I said, ‘What bit you? Where is it?'”
They both figured that a small animal, such as a squirrel or a mink, had been sheltering in the outhouse from the cold, and that it was responsible for the bite.
But Erik wanted to be sure, so he switched on a headlamp and ventured into the outhouse to investigate.
The bear was waiting.
“I opened the toilet seat and there’s just a bear face just right there at the level of the toilet seat, just looking right back up through the hole, right at me,” Erik told the AP.
“I just shut the lid as fast as I could.”
Erik ran out of the outhouse, grabbed his sister and together they rushed back into the yurt.
Shannon Stevens says her injury was bleeding but it was not serious, so it was easy to patch it up with the first aid kit they had on hand.
“It felt like just a single puncture,” she told local radio station KHNS.
The trio waited until the next morning before venturing out of the yurt again. What they found were bear tracks roaming around the property, circling around their fire pit and leading toward the outhouse.
“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,” Erik told KHNS. “He probably just pushed the rocks over and got down in the hole.”
“I expect it’s probably not that bad of a little den in the winter,” Shannon said.
Photos of the footprints suggest it was a black bear, according to biologist Carl Koch of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Management.
He says he’s never heard of such a bizarre encounter before.
“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.”
Shannon says she’s learned a valuable lesson about watching her butt in the backcountry — especially when it comes to using the toilet.
“I’m definitely going to look down in the hole next time,” she said.
—With files from The Associated Press