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Woman hospitalized following otter attack in Jefferson River



Bozeman, Montana — Three people were reportedly assaulted by otters while floating the Jefferson River on Wednesday night, turning an evening float into an emergency encounter.

The women came across some otters Wednesday night shortly after 8 o’clock while they were floating along a section of the Jefferson River close to Lewis and Clark Caverns. Before the women could exit the water, the otters attacked, shattering an inner tube and injuring all three of them.

One of the women received significant bite wounds to her face and arms and was airlifted to the hospital in Bozeman.

“The women were able to get to shore, two of them on one side, one on the other side of the river, and the otter left the area. All three women received injuries in the encounter,” said Morgan Jacobsen with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “One of the women had injuries that were more serious; she was taken by helicopter to a hospital here in Bozeman. All three women have received treatment for their injuries.”

According to Jacobsen, otters can be found in almost all of the rivers in southwest Montana. Attacks do occur, though; one involved a woman on the Madison in 2016 and another involved a small child on the Big Hole in 2021.

This attack, he claims, sounds frightening.

“At this point, we haven’t gotten reports of otter being seen in this area since then. We don’t have any plans at this time to try and locate or to trap and remove these otters, but we are posting signs in these areas advising visitors that there is otter activity going on in the area, to be aware of that,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen urges caution when using waterways for recreation, particularly at this time of year.

“When water levels are lower, that brings people who are recreating on rivers to closer proximity with wildlife that may be on those rivers as well. there’s just less water, less space, and so keep that in mind when you’re out recreating, to do all you can to keep your distance from wildlife,” he said.


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