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Wild Otter Injures Three Women During Attack on Montana River

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Wild Otter Injures Three Women During Attack on Montana River

Posted 2023-08-16  by  Stephanie Mallory

One of the women suffered such severe injuries she had to be life flighted to the hospital

Jen Royce was celebrating her birthday with two friends by floating down a Montana river in inner tubes. Then the fun quickly turned to horror as a river otter attacked all three women, seriously injuring Royce.

According to, the attack happened Wednesday evening, August 2, near the town of Cardwell, on a remote stretch of the Jefferson River that's popular with anglers and recreational floaters.

Royce says she saw the otter as it swam up behind her friend, and before she could warn her, the otter attacked. The agitated animal attacked all three women, inflicting bite marks and lacerations to their arms, ears, hands, legs, thighs, ankles, and face.

Royce told of her terrifying experience on her Facebook page and shared photos of her gruesome injuries.

“Around 8:15 pm the otters attacked us,” she said. “It lasted maybe 5 minutes? I really cannot remember. We were in the middle of the river in a deep and wide stretch that went far back from the road and behind the mountains. I saw one otter right behind my friend before it attacked. I didn’t even have a chance to get the words ‘There is an otter behind you’ out of me before it attacked her.”

Royce continued, “This thing was vicious and relentless. It bit my face in several places, both of my ears, my arms, my hands, my legs, my thighs, and my ankle. My friends were bit on the hands and on their bottoms. One friend’s thumb was shredded, and she has bite marks all over her body as well. Being in the middle of the river meant I couldn’t reach the bottom with my feet, so I was trying to tread water while fending for my body. The water was definitely where they excelled in their attack and we were helpless. I tried to kick it away but I would just get attacked somewhere else. I tried to hold it back at one point by grabbing its arm to hold it away while trying to swim closer to shore. Once I had my feet under me, I was able to fight back better and was eventually able to pull myself out of the river. It swam away after that."

Royce and one of her friends managed to make it to shore, where the friend called 911, but the third woman was stuck on a rock in the middle of the river.

First responders eventually arrived and transported the women to the hospital. Royce’s injuries were so severe she had to be life flighted to the hospital, where she underwent a five-hour surgery to repair injuries to her arms, legs, face, hands, and ears.

Warning signs have since been posted at access points along the Jefferson River in the area of the attack. The animals have not been spotted in the area since Wednesday and there are no plans to try to capture them, as it's believed to have been a defensive attack.

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