August 3, 2014 in City, Region

Otter attacks two swimmers in Washington river

Doug Esser Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – State and federal wildlife agents are trying to trap an otter that attacked a boy and his grandmother as they were swimming in the Pilchuck River about 30 miles northeast of Seattle.

Because it has pounced on people, the otter will likely be killed unless it is a female with pups, said Capt. Alan Myers of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“We’re doing everything possible to capture the animal as soon as possible,” Myers said Friday. “This is an extremely rare incident. Otters are not known to be aggressive toward people.”

The boy needed stitches for bites, and his grandmother could lose an eye from the attack Thursday morning in the river near Lake Connor Park, which is between Lake Stevens and Machias.

A state worker was unable to find the otter, so expert trappers were called in from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, Myers said. They’ll try to trap it with a foot snare or tranquilize it.

“We’re not sure if it’s a hyper-aggressive male protecting territory or a female protecting its young,” Myers said.

The otter would have to be killed so its brain could be tested for rabies, if that’s a concern for doctors treating the boy and his grandmother, he said.

“There are no known cases of otter rabies in Washington,” he said. “That’s an extremely remote possibility.”

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