The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks said in its initial statement on the incident that the women were “floating on the Jefferson River” when they spotted “one or two otters.” Though the exact circumstances aren’t clear, at this point one of the otters “approached and attacked” the women. Once they left the water, however, the attacking otter swam away.
While all three women were injured in the dicey debacle, only one had injuries deemed serious enough to require being flown to a nearby hospital in a helicopter. A regional NBC report revealed a bit more regarding the women’s injuries, including that one of them had suffered “severe bites” on their face and arms.
Such attacks are indeed rare, per local wildlife officials. However, otters can display protective behavior when it comes to their offspring and their food supply. In their statement, officials urged those looking to enjoy such scenes of nature to keep their distance from any animal they may encounter. Interestingly, they also advised fighting back in instances of otter-on-human skirmishes.
“If you are attacked by an otter, fight back, get away and out of the water, and seek medical attention,” wildlife officials said.
Amazingly, this isn't the first time otters have exhibited headlines-making behavior in recent weeks. Just last month, a surfers-targeting sea otter was made the subject of an attempted capture after allegedly engaging in "aggressive" activities.