(NEXSTAR) — A woman had to be airlifted to a Montana hospital after she and two others were attacked by an otter Wednesday night, according to wildlife officials.
The women were floating on inner tubes on the Jefferson River about 40 miles west of Bozeman shortly after 8 p.m. when they saw “one or two otters,” the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) said in a news release.
An otter then approached and attacked the women. The women were able to get out of the water, according to the FWP, and the otter swam away.
Multiple emergency crews responded to the scene. Authorities say all three women were injured in the encounter and were treated in Bozeman.
One woman suffered more serious injuries and was airlifted to a hospital. Authorities told local news outlets the woman had severe bites to the face and arms. The two others had superficial wounds.
Additional details regarding the women’s conditions have not been released.
It’s also not clear why the otter attacked the women. The FWP says otter attacks are rare, but the animals can be protective of themselves and their young. They can also become protective over food resources.
Should you be attacked by an otter, wildlife officials recommend fighting back, getting out of and away from the water, and seeking medical attention if you are injured.
In 2020, a Florida woman grabbed an otter by its tail after it attacked her dog and 17-year-old daughter. She suffered scratches while her daughter required a rabies shot after being bitten on the leg. In 2018, another Florida otter encounter left a 77-year-old woman without part of her ear.
Surfers in California have been on the lookout for an “aggressive” sea otter that was caught on video wrestling and biting a surfboard. Wildlife officials say this isn’t the first time the otter, named sea otter 841, has been aggressive toward humans.