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3 Women Injured in Montana Otter Attack

One of them had to be airlifted to the hospital
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2023 4:51 AM CDT
3 Women Injured in Montana Otter Attack
This image provided by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, shows the Jefferson River at Sappington Bridge near Cardwell. A rare river otter attack along a nearby stretch of the river on Wednesday left three women injured.   (Morgan Jacobsen/Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks via AP)

One of three women hurt in a river otter attack in southern Montana was injured so badly that she had to be taken to a hospital by helicopter, authorities say. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks says the women were floating in inner tubes on the Jefferson River a few miles from the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park around 8pm Wednesday when they saw one or two otters and were attacked by at least one of them, NBC News reports. The attack ended when they got out of the water. Authorities say the most seriously injured woman had wounds to her face and arms while the other two were bitten on their arms.

The women called 911 and multiple agencies responded, along with a local landowner. Northern river otters can weigh up to 20 pounds, around the size of a small dog, and attacks on humans are rare but not unheard of. "While attacks from otters are rare, otters can be protective of themselves and their young, especially at close distances. They give birth to their young in April and can later be seen with their young in the water during the summer," Fish, Wildlife, and Parks said in a statement. "It's just not something you run into very often," says Jefferson County Undersheriff James Everett, per the AP. "Bears do it, moose, too, and occasionally a deer, but otters? That's not normal."

Signs have been posted at fishing access sites in the area warning of aggressive otter activity but FWP officials say no further action against the otters is planned since the attack was apparently defensive, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports. "If folks are attacked by an otter, our recommended response is to fight back, get away, and get out of the water," says FWP official Morgan Jacobsen. (In California, a sea otter has been targeting surfboards.)

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