FWP: Otter attacks three women

Otter attacks three women

By: - August 3, 2023 4:55 pm

Boaters on the Smith River in Meagher County (Photo by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks).

Three women were injured by an otter on Wednesday while floating on the Jefferson River near Three Forks, including one who was airlifted to the hospital for more serious injuries, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson said in a news release.

The airlifted woman’s condition was unknown at press time; a voicemail left for FWP was not immediately returned late Thursday afternoon.

The attack happened around 8:15 p.m. as the women floated on inner tubes three miles upstream from Sappington Bridge. FWP spokesperson Morgan Jacobsen said an otter attacked them before swimming away.

The women called 911, and multiple state and local agencies responded. All three were taken to Bozeman for medical treatment, including the woman flown to the hospital because of more serious injuries.

There are signs posted at several fishing access sites in the area warning recreationists of otter activity, but Jacobsen said the agency is not considering any further management of otters because of the attack.

Jacobsen said otter attacks are rare, but the animals can be protective of their young and food sources. FWP advises people to be aware of wildlife in the water and keep their distance, especially during the current drought and low water levels, and to fight back if attacked by an otter and seek medical attention.

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Aislin Tweedy
Aislin Tweedy

Aislin Tweedy is a journalist in Missoula. She is a tribal member of the Nakoda tribe from Fort Belknap Reservation. She was a former Editor in Chief of her school’s journalism newsroom, the Sentinel; and a news reporter for the Montana Kaimin at the University of Montana. She focuses on state politics, student government and Native American politics and rights.