Monday, 24 Jan 2022

Experts called in to hunt rogue gang of aggressive otters attacking people

Animal experts in Alaska are on the hunt for an unruly group of river otters responsible for attacking people in the state's largest city.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has said that usually docile river otters have uncharacteristically attacked people and pets at outdoor areas in Anchorage.

Officials are now asking people to be extra careful when they are around rivers, creeks and lakes along the city's greenbelt, CBS News reported.

In early September a 9-year-old boy was bitten several times near a pond in East Anchorage, and rushed to the emergency room for a rabies shot.

The mother of the boy, who was on a bike ride with his older brother, said she thought the 13-year-old was joking when he called to say that his younger brother was attacked by otters.

She said four otters broke away from their pack and attacked her son when he recorded the group in the duck pond.

“This week, another woman was bitten while rescuing her dog from a similar group of river otters at University Lake,” a popular dog-walking area, Fish and Game said in a statement earlier this week.

The same day as the young boy was attacked, September 1st, a dog was bitten by an otter at the same lake.

After the attack, Dave Battle, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said that he is aware that otters attack dogs “every once in a while,” but that he is surprised they are now gunning for humans.

He told Anchorage Daily News: “The fact that an otter attacked a person was certainly surprising."

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He also guessed that the group that attacked the boys, and the woman this week, is the same one.

“We don’t know whether that’s always been the same group,” Battle said.

“Logically, I would think that it probably is, because it’s such unusual behaviour. It would be unlikely that multiple groups in the same city would suddenly start exhibiting the same type of behaviour.”

Armed staff from Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska State Troopers walked the trails at University Lake Wednesday, September 22, 2021, responding to reports of aggressive river otters.

“Because of the risk to public safety, efforts will be made to locate this group of river otters and remove them,” Fish and Game said. “Care will be taken to only remove the animals exhibiting these unusual behaviors.”

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