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Otters Are On the Attack in This City

Woman, boy bitten in Anchorage, Alaska; officials aren't sure why the rare attacks are taking place
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2021 9:01 AM CDT
Otters Are On the Attack in This City
Stock photo of a river otter from parts unknown.   (Getty Images/Troy Levengood)

(Newser) – The Anchorage Press has lifted its paywall on a recent story to deliver a very important message to locals: "Beware of aggressive river otters." Friday's warning from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game came after a woman, a child, and at least two dogs were attacked by the creatures in the state's largest city over the last month, even though otter attacks against humans are rare. "Because of the risk to public safety, efforts will be made to locate this group of river otters and remove them," the ADFG announced.

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The Guardian notes the most recent attacks took place last week, when two dogs were attacked by otters in separate locations along University Lake. The owner of one of the dogs was bitten by an otter as she tried to help her pet. Earlier this month, a 9-year-old boy was chased and bitten by four otters while he was playing with his brother and friends near a duck pond in the eastern part of the city.

"He has two fang marks on his back thigh, and one on the front thigh on each leg," the boy's mother tells the Anchorage Daily News. "[He has] one puncture wound on his foot. He ended up falling as he was running away and [the otter] got him on his back." While it's not clear if it's the same group of otters wreaking havoc, the Press notes that "river otters may travel long distances over land or by utilizing interconnected waterways," meaning it could be the same group that's responsible for all of the recent attacks.

Officials, who say they'll be careful to only go after otters "exhibiting these unusual behaviors," note any that are "lethally removed" will be tested for rabies. Anyone who spots river otters around Anchorage, or aggressive behavior exhibited by any wildlife toward humans, should contact the state's fish and game department; if there's an immediate threat, call 911. (Read more otter stories.)

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