Pa. fisherman attacked by possibly rabid river otter

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are investigating a baffling river otter attack on a Venango County fisherman.

The fisherman, 27, was reportedly wading near the junction of French Creek and the Allegheny River when, around 2 p.m. on Monday, he saw a river otter near the bike trail. “The individual fishes the area often and said he didn’t find the
presence of a river otter to be unusual,” Wildlife Control Officer Ronda Bimber said in a statement. “He heard the
otter enter the water and watched it swim at a diagonal to his
position. The otter then turned and swam directly toward him. He made
noise and slapped the water with his fishing rod unsuccessfully. The
otter dove and proceeded to bite and scratch the victim.”

The man sustained numerous bite and scratch wounds to his leg and big toe. “The incident ended when he was able to kick the otter in the head,” Bimber said. He then sought medical attention. The otter was not captured, and officials are looking into the possibility that it may have been rabid.

“This area is frequently used by the public, so we are encouraging park
users to look out for any suspicious activity by river otters,” Bimber said. “At this point, it is not
clear what initiated the attack.”

Anyone with information about the situation is urged to call the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northwest Region Office at 814-432-3187.

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