You read that right: There was an otter attack. And this poor Utah boy was saved from the river-ridden mammals just in the nick of time.
As a wildlife technician with a solid decade of experience, I have never once read the words “otter attack” in a serious context. Today changes that.
According to a statement by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks this week, a 12-year-old boy was literally attacked by an otter this past Friday as he and a friend floated down the state’s Big Hole River.
Apparently, the otter climbed aboard his inner tube and instigated what I can confirm is a very rare attack. Thankfully, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks says the young boy did not suffer any life-threatening injuries.
In their report, the agency says the two boys were floating down a section of the river that’s west of Divide, Montana. There, upstream from the Powerhouse Fishing Access Site, the boys would see several river otters. It was here that a single otter then attacked the 12-year old, who remains unidentified.
Luckily, two adults were camping nearby. They were able to rush to his rescue, preventing any further harm.
“Fortunately, the boy was able to receive prompt treatment for injuries that were not life threatening. The other boy was not injured,” Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks states via USA Today’s FTW Outdoors.
Otters are Scrappy Little Mammals. But Attacks on Humans? Near Unheard Of
Following the odd attack, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials are placing signs along the river. Their goal is to caution visitors of the incident – and of local otter behavior.
As we’ve touched on, otter attacks on humans are incredibly rare. Circumstances would have to be incredibly unique to create the scenario to foster one.
In the wild, however, otters can be ferocious little buggers. Many instances of otter rafts – the term used to describe a “pack” of otters – attacking larger animals in tandem exist. Otter species can be very tenacious when defending their pups. Otters develop a strong sense of community and even stronger family bonds, too – and will not hesitate to raft up in order to thwart what they perceive as a threat to their kin.
This, combined with a penchant for territorial behavior, may explain this poor 12-year-old’s freak encounter. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks cites that local otters will give birth in April, before staying with their young throughout the summer. It is possible that the boy came too close to a mother defending her pups.
In addition, the agency says that Utah’s current drought has rivers running low. This causes shrinking of the otters’ territory, and could have forced the young rafters to come too close to wildlife.
One thing’s for certain, though: at least one Utah boy will now grow into a man with a healthy respect for river otters.