Otter bites floater on Missouri River - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Otter bites floater on Missouri River

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File photo of a river otter at ZooMontana (Photo: ZooMontana) File photo of a river otter at ZooMontana (Photo: ZooMontana)

A tuber floating the Missouri River about a half mile upstream of York’s Islands Fishing Access Site south of Townsend on Saturday evening was bitten by an otter.

According to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks the incident happened in about the same location as a similar incident last year, said Region 3 warden sergeant Justin Hawkaluk.

The floaters saw an animal swimming toward them and then the otter punctured the tube and then bit the swimmer in the water. The wound was minor and did not require stitches.

“These incidents, while not common, do occur from time to time with animals that are either sick or protecting their young,” said FWP Region 3 spokeswoman Andrea Jones. “In the case of any wild animal, it’s best to give them safe distance.”

Signs notifying recreationists of an aggressive otter in the area were posted at the Toston and York’s Island Fishing Access Sites.

The man who was "nipped" by the otter, Jaime Evans, wrote the following message on the KTVH Facebook page:

Just to clear any misconception, it didn't go out of its way. It came up and barked at us first, to let us know it was there and we were impeding. It dove under us and came up behind us and barked again. At that point, my pup barked back at it and escalated the situation. It was US who got in it's way. Anytime you partake in outdoor activities, you can plan for all of the known hazards associated with your activity. In MT, nature has to be taken into account as a hazard. Unfortunately, this was an UNKNOWN hazard.

I have floated past otters many times, all over MT, since 2002. This was the first time I have seen any get aggressive. And I can't even really say aggressive, because by all accounts, based on the size of it, if it had been trying to hurt either myself, my friends and family or my dog, it certainly could have. In terms of damage this guy did, they were more in a way a dog might nip at a human to let you know you stepped on their tail or something. My skin being wet from floating for the past 4 hours, it was a little worse than it probably should have been.

In any case, we shouldn't look at this incident as an epidemic or let this skew our view of nature. This should be treated as an isolated incident and not be quick to start the genocide. Was this a crappy end to an otherwise perfect day of floating? Absolutely! But my kiddos and my friends have an outdoors experience well remember for the rest of our lives. 

P.s. the odds of contracting rabies through an otter bite is very very slim. But you still get the barrage of shots and antibiotics, just to be on the safe side. ***better that he chose me as his target in stead of the kiddos or dog... by far cheaper me than the dog... ?? ***

There have been several similar incidents in recent years.

In July 2013, a woman was attacked by an otter along the Madison River; she sustained several cuts and required treatment at a hospital, but fully recovered.

In August 2014, two otters attacked a boy who was swimming at Lake of the Woods east of Kalispell. The boy sustained several bite wounds to his legs; he was treated at a Polson medical facility and released.

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