You “otter" be careful.
That’s the advice 13 year-old Kierra Clark is dispensing after she was attacked by a river otter while playing in the Kalama River in Kalama, Wash., on Wednesday, KATU reports.
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“At first, it felt like somebody was just, like, grabbing onto my leg with their nails, and then it felt like somebody was, like, stabbing me,” Clark told KATU. “It was probably one of the scariest things ever.”
Clark and her cousin, Matalyn Longtain, 11, were playing on a rope swing near the river bank when they heard something in the bushes. The pair started to swim back to their grandparents' house, and that's when the otter chased them, biting Longtain once and Clark several times, the Longview Daily News reports.
Clark received the brunt of the attack with cuts and bruises along her leg and heel, requiring a tetanus shot. Doctors said her injuries weren’t serious and she would fully recover.
Area residents said this is the first time they’ve witnessed an otter attack. “I’ve been here 60-some years and never seen anything like it,” said Fred Palmer, who helped Clark's grandfather pull the girl out of the water. “And there’s always kids out there swimming in the summer.”
Before her grandfather, Bob Schlecht Jr., brought her to safety, Clark remembers facing the otter’s fierce-looking teeth. “They were, like, sharp and long,” she said.
Clark’s grandmother said there was blood streaming down her leg. “[It was like] a scene out of ‘Jaws,’” Arlita Schlecht said.
Palmer called a fish biologist, who surmised that the girls had inadvertently gotten between the mother otter and her babies. Animals tend to become aggressive while protecting their young, Craig Bartlett, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said. While otter attacks are rare, they’re not unusual behavior, especially at this time of year.
Clark’s grandfather agreed. “I think the mother was just [trying to stop] what she thought was a threat to her babies,” he said. “I’ve never heard of it before. It’s probably one in a million.”