Otter Attacks Three Women During a Montana River Float Trip

An otter attacked three women on a Montana river float trip, sending one to the hospital with serious wounds from head to foot.

Otter Attacks Three Women During a Montana River Float Trip

Three women were attacked by an aggressive otter while floating the Jefferson River in Montana. Photo:

Three women were injured by an otter while enjoying a float trip in inner tubes on the Jefferson River in Montana, with one flown by helicopter to a hospital for treatment. The attack in early August happened about 8:15 p.m., when the three women were floating along and saw one or two otters, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials. An otter swam toward the women and attacked them, then swam away after they got to shore.

One of the women then called 911 and several agencies responded, including Montana Highway Patrol, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Valley Ambulance and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Life Flight and a local landowner. The women were treated on site and then in Bozeman. One, Jen Royce, was taken by helicopter and hospitalized for numerous severe bites and scratches on her body.

Royce said on her social media accounts the otter swam behind the three women. When she noticed it and tried to warn her friend, it was too late.

“I didn’t even have a chance to get the words 'there is an otter behind you' out of me before it attacked her,” Royce wrote. “This thing was vicious and relentless. It bit my face in several places, both of my ears, my arms, my hands, my legs, my thighs and my ankle. My friends were bitten on the hands and on their bottoms. One friend’s thumb was shredded, and she had bite marks all over her body as well.”

Royce said the three women were in the middle of the river and were unable to stand because of the depth. They kicked and punched at the otter, which finally moved away. She posted on her social accounts that the three did not agitate or otherwise provoke the attack, and that the otter swam behind them.

“We were helpless. I tried to kick it away, but I would just get attacked somewhere else. I tried to hold it back at one point by grabbing its arm to hold it away while trying to swim closer to shore,” Royce posted on her accounts.

FWP staff posted signs at several fishing access sites in the area, advising recreationists of otter activity. No further management action is planned at this time. Wildlife officials were unsure what sparked the attack, which was rare, but said otters will protect themselves and their young, or food sources, if they feel threatened.


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