Update: Bear Attack at Princess-Owned Lodge in Alaska

July 28, 2008
Update: We reached a spokeswoman for Princess who says Sisk continues to improve and should be going home from the hospital tomorrow. The lodge has closed two remote hiking trails, but will reevaluate the situation this week -- if the trails do open, they will close every evening at dusk. Hotel staff continues to warn guests about bear activity -- stressing that bear attacks so close to the lodge are highly unusual -- and urge people to walk in groups at night. Although the Kenai Princess Lodge is not on the cruise line's standard Whittier-to-Fairbanks cruisetours, still 75 to 80 percent of the hotel's guests are part of a cruisetour.

A woman was attacked by a grizzly bear about 25 yards from the Kenai Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing, Alaska, at 11 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The wilderness resort is owned by Princess Cruises and used to house travelers on certain Alaska cruisetours.

According to reports in USA Today and the Anchorage Daily News, 21-year-old Abby Sisk, a summer employee of the hotel, was returning from a solo hike when the bear emerged from the bushes and attacked her, taking her head in its jaws. A hotel guest saw the attack and managed to scare the bear away. Sisk was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, where she was listed in critical condition after surgery, but is expected to survive.

Bear sightings are common in this area, especially on summer nights, but no one knows why the bear attacked Sisk. Despite search efforts Thursday morning, Alaska State Troopers could not find the aggressive bear.

The Kenai Princess Lodge is used as accommodations on Princess' Explorer: Kenai and Escorted Alaska cruisetours. We were unable to get a statement from Princess as to whether any cruise passengers were at the lodge at the time of the attack. Current hotel guests have been asked to take advantage of shuttles from their rooms to the main lodge or walk in groups as a safety precaution.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor