A Utah woman is in an Alaska hospital after a grizzly bear attacked her near a lodge Wednesday night.

Abby Sisk, 21, underwent surgery Thursday morning, a day after a bear wrapped its jaws around her head and dragged her a few feet before someone scared it off, said Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

Sisk, of Ogden, was recovering at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage and was in good spirits Thursday, said Dan Michels, the general manager of the lodge where Sisk worked.

"She still has her sense of humor," Michels said. "Even when she was getting hauled away in the ambulance, she said, 'Make sure you tell my mom that I finally saw my bear."'

Sisk, a seasonal employee at the Kenai Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing, about 50 miles southwest of Anchorage, was returning from a hike and was about 25 yards from the lodge Wednesday when she was attacked just before 11 p.m., Ipsen said.

"A bear came out of the bushes and attacked," Ipsen said. "It dragged her a few feet. It was close to the lodge."

Robert VinZant of Wasilla, who was attending a work retreat at the lodge, heard what he thought at first was laughter, and then he heard screaming.

VinZant looked a window and saw the a male grizzly on top of Sisk, Ipsen said.

He ran outside, confronted the bear that stood up to 8 feet tall and weighed 500 pounds to 800 pounds, and managed to scare it away, Ipsen said.

Sisk suffered major lacerations to her head and face, Ipsen said.

Police are unsure what prompted the bear to attack. Alaska state troopers said the attack is alarming because it happened so close to a lodge in a popular hiking area.

"It's extremely scary," Michels said. "But we're very excited that she's doing well."

Troopers were continuing to look for the bear on Thursday, but Ipsen said the task (of finding the bear) would be difficult, if not impossible.

"There are about 25 brown bears in the area," she said, "and actually tracking down the one responsible for this would be really difficult."

Lodge staff called all guests after the 11 p.m. attack, urging them to stay inside and to use shuttles to the main lodge.

The lodge is on 46 secluded acres on the Kenai River. There are no guest rooms at the main lodge, and guest accommodations are spread over the property.

As more guests arrived Thursday, the lodge staff planned to urge them to continue to use shuttles or at least walk in groups.

Several trails have been closed, including the one on which Sisk was attacked.


Contributing: Associated Press

E-mail: afalk@desnews.com