Alaska Residents Face Threat From Agressive River Otters Attacking Kids and Dogs

Nature

People living in Anchorage, Alaska have gotten used to living near moose and bear, but they are are now dealing with the threat from a smaller creature which is the humble river otter.

River Otter

(Photo : Getty Images)

River Otter 

The Alaska department of fish and game notified residents Friday of a pack of hostile otters which have mauled children, dogs, and matured humans close to rivers, creeks, and lakes.

The only significant predator river otters have are humans. Officials said attacks the other way are rare. In spite of that, series of reported events triggered the official warning.

Authorities said: “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.”

Just last week, the otters bit a woman trying to rescue her dog from the animals at a lake. A group of otters also mauled a dog that same day, in a different part of the city.

Also Read: 5 Disturbing Facts About Sea Otters: They’re Not as Cuddly as They Seem

River Otter Attacks

At the beginning of the month, a boy who is nine-year-old visited the emergency room after four otters pursued him together with his friends while they were playing close to a duck pond in east Anchorage.

Tiffany Fernandez, the mother of the boy mother, told the Anchorage Daily News: “He has two fang marks on his back thigh and one on the front thigh on each leg. [He has] one puncture wound on his foot.”

Officials said they would test the otters to know if they have rabies, which could explain why they are aggressive, although no recent reports of rabid otters in the area have been made.

In July, it was discovered that a river otter had rabies over 300 miles away in Dillingham, Alaska, and can be reached only by either plane or boat.

An otter mauled a dog at Anchorage’s University Lake in November 2019, although the owner of the dog wasn’t able to get a very clear glimpse to be certain if the aquatic attacker was an otter or a beaver.

At the time, the owner of the dog (Labradoodle) whose name is Carol Stratton told local news station KTUU: “They made a beeline through the water. I called for [my dog] and bam. They pulled her under at least twice. It was horrifying.”

River Otter

(Photo : Getty Images)

Species of Otter

Bryan Reiley, a wildlife biologist who inspected the otter, revealed to Alaska Public Media that the body of the otter was covered with porcupine quills.

It is rare for the two species to interact since they like living in water and land respectively.

Seeing evidence of river otter activity is more common than seeing otters. They usually live in groups, either mothers with pups or bachelor males stay together. 

Officials said they are not aware of the composition of the hostile Anchorage pack.

Related Article: Smart Animals: Sea Otters Used Tools Even Before Dolphins and Humans Did, Study Says

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