BIG TICKET GIVEAWAY

Win 2 tickets to every event for a year! Click here to enter.

Present by The Daily Herald
The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014, 5:42 p.m.

Otter attacks, injures boy and grandmother on Pilchuck River

LAKE STEVENS — A boy and his grandmother were taken to a hospital with serious injuries Thursday morning after a river otter attacked them near Lake Connor Park in Lake Stevens.
The boy was swimming in the Pilchuck River with his grandmother around 11 a.m. when the otter attacked, said Capt. Alan Myers with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife. When the grandmother attempted to fend off the otter, the animal attacked her, as well.
Based on initial reports, the boy likely needs stitches and his grandmother has a severe eye injury, Myers said.
Names, ages and current conditions of the boy and grandmother were not immediately available.
The otter had not been caught as of Thursday evening. A trapper was unable to locate a den in the area where the attack happened.
If caught, the otter may be euthanized or relocated, Myers said. Officials are waiting to hear from doctors about whether a rabies test is needed.
“When an animal has attacked a human, it becomes hard to justify setting it free again,” Myers said.
Ruth Milner, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Fish & Wildlife, said this is the first time she’s dealt with an otter attack in Snohomish or Island counties. However, she’s heard of them elsewhere in the state and country.
“Otter attacks are uncommon, but they have happened,” Milner said. “They’re not normally perceived as dangerous animals, but any animal can be aggressive in the wrong circumstances.”
River otters are not particularly common in the area, Milner said. The state does not have detailed population information.
River otters are muscular and can weigh up to 30 pounds. They are armed with sharp canines and claws. They have large home territories and may travel miles along a river for food and shelter.
They are carnivorous and related to wolverines, mink and weasels.
“I can’t begin to go into the mind of this animal and tell you why it did what it did,” she said. “It could have felt threatened by the human activity in the area. Normally otters are fairly calm around people. They hang around boat docks and that sort of thing.”
She said her best advice for people around any wild animal is to back away slowly. Never attempt to approach or touch the creature.
“Animals have a fear mechanism and when it’s triggered they can become unpredictable,” Milner said.
The Department of Fish & Wildlife recommends observing river otters from a distance, preferably a bridge or pier above a known eating area. People should not attempt to interact with an otter, and mother otters can be especially aggressive, according to the state.
Milner said it is unclear if the otter involved in Thursday’s attack was a mother. With no den nearby, she said it’s possible, but unlikely.
Signs are being posted around Lake Connor Park and along the river where the attack happened, Myers said. They warn people to use caution or stay away.
“We’re doing our best to keep people out of there and keep them safe,” he said. “We will remain aggressive to try and locate this animal and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, kbray@heraldnet.com
Story tags » Lake StevensPilchuck RiverAnimal attacks

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

HeraldNet highlights

Logging the PCT
Logging the PCT: Hikers spend summer on iconic trail in hopes of improving app
The naked truth
The naked truth: Marysville native tells what it was like on 'Naked & Afraid'
Sundance by the sea
Sundance by the sea: For 3 days, Port Townsend becomes a film mecca
Boeing's big art
Boeing's big art: Colorful images going up on hangar doors at Paine Field