A tuber floating the Missouri River about a half mile upstream of York’s Island Fishing Access Site south of Townsend on Saturday evening was bitten by a river otter.
The incident happened in about the same location as a similar incident last year, said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 Warden Sgt. Justin Hawkaluk.
The floaters saw an animal swimming toward them and then the otter punctured the tube and then bit the swimmer in the water. The wound was minor and didn’t require stitches, according to FWP.
“These incidents, while not common, do occur from time to time with animals that are either sick or protecting their young,” said FWP spokesperson Andrea Jones. “In the case of any wild animal, it’s best to give them safe distance.”
Signs notifying recreationists of an aggressive otter in the area were posted at the Toston and York’s Island fishing access sites.
Officials do not have reason to believe the animal was rabid and the signage will be the extent of FWP’s response, said spokesman Greg Lemon.
“If for some reason it happens again or gets out of hand we’ll address it, but for right now we just want folks to be aware that there’s likely an otter protecting its den, and to be cautious,” he said.
Otters range across western and central Montana dwelling in rivers and lakes. A member of the weasel family and preying mostly on fish, they reach about 20 pounds and 47 inches in length.