Three women were injured by an otter Wednesday evening while floating on the Jefferson River.
About 8:15 p.m., the three women were floating on inner tubes about 3 miles upstream from Sappington Bridge when they observed one or two otters. An otter approached and attacked them. The women got out of the water, and the otter swam away.
The women then called 911, and several agencies responded, including Montana Highway Patrol, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Valley Ambulance, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Life Flight and a local landowner.
All three women were injured during the encounter and received medical treatment in Bozeman. One of them, whose injuries were more serious, was taken to the hospital in a helicopter.
FWP staff have posted signs at several fishing access sites in the area advising recreationists of otter activity. No further management action is planned at this time.
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. They may also be protective of food resources, especially when those resources are scarce. Otters are members of the weasel family.
FWP advises recreationists to keep a wide distance, giving all wildlife plenty of space. In drought conditions, low water levels can bring recreationists closer to water-dwelling wildlife. Being aware and keeping your distance can help avoid dangerous encounters, reduce stress for wildlife, and promote healthy animal behavior. If you are attacked by an otter, fight back, get away and out of the water, and seek medical attention.
(via Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Region 3))