(VitalNews.org) – Three women needed medical attention after being attacked by a wild otter in Montana. On Wednesday, July 2nd, the women decided to enjoy the waters approximately three miles away from the Sappington Bridge by floating on rubber inner tubes. They became aware of several otters near them in the river but were taken by surprise when one or more became violent and attacked them.
The otters were Northern River Otters, a relative of the weasel which generally reaches the size of a small dog. It is exceedingly rare for them to become violent towards human beings. Deputy Sheriff James Everett of Jefferson County told reporters that he was used to hearing reports of moose or bears attacking people but was shocked to hear of an attack by otters.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department (MFWP) released a statement reminding people that these creatures are wild animals that want to protect themselves, their resources, and their young. Otters give birth in the spring, usually in April, and so are likely to have young with them throughout summer. MFWP has asked people who may use the river for their leisure activities to give any otters a wide berth. This will help to keep the animals calm and avoid any unpleasant encounters.
Two of the women suffered injuries to their arms and were treated nearby, but the third woman suffered more severe injuries to her arms and face. She had to be airlifted to the hospital to receive treatment, and as yet no update on her condition has been provided. Other than issuing warnings to people who may want to spend time in the water, no further action has been taken against the local otters.
MFWP has determined that the attack was likely done in self-defense as the women, even unintentionally, drifted too close to the otters and the territory or offspring they were guarding. The department has issued instructions to anybody who suffers an otter attack to fight back, remove yourself from the water as soon as you can, and call for help.
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