River Otters Are Attacking People and Their Dogs in Alaska’s Largest City, Prompting Warning From Officials

by Taylor Cunningham

Residents in Anchorage, Alaska, appear to be under siege by some of the world’s most adorable aquatic mammals—river otters. According to The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, otters have been attacking people and their pets. And officials are urging people to be careful when they are around the cities rivers, creeks, and lakes.

At the beginning of September, an Anchorage emergency room treated a 9-year-old boy after an otter bit him several times near a duck pond. And more recently, otters targeted a woman and a few pets.

“This week, another woman was bitten while rescuing her dog from a similar group of river otters at University Lake,” Fish and Game wrote in an official statement. The statement also noted that otters bit another dog while it was exercising on a lakeside walking trail.

Officials admitted that river otters can be aggressive, but it is not common behavior. The animals live in groups, and officials believe only one group is guilty of the recent “unusual behaviors.”

“Because of the risk to public safety, efforts will be made to locate this group of river otters and remove them. Care will be taken to only remove the animals exhibiting these unusual behaviors,” Fish and Game said.

Adults Rescue Boy After Otters Attacked While He Was Floating Down a Montana River

Alaskan Fish and Game officials may say that otter attacks are not commonplace. But within the last two months, the animals have made headlines for injuring both humans and pets.

In August, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced that an otter attacked a 12-year old boy. The child was floating down Big Hole River with his friends.

According to a statement, the friends were floating on a section of the river’s west divide, which is upstream from the Powerhouse Fishing Access Site. After they spotted several otters in front of them, one animal climbed into the boy’s inner tube and began biting in a very aggressive attack. Luckily, two adults campers noticed the attack and were able to rescue the unidentified child.

“Fortunately, the boy was able to receive prompt treatment for injuries that were not life-threatening. The other boy was not injured,” officials told reporters.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks confirmed that otters are rarely aggressive towards people. However, there are a few circumstances that can prompt attacks.

The animals usually give birth during the springtime and stay with their young throughout the summer. So if the boys unknowingly neared young otters, the mother may have felt threatened.

The department also stated that recent droughts have lowered water levels. And the shrinking river may have caused the otter to become territorial.