Otter attacks Montana woman while she was tubing on the Jefferson River with friends
- Jen Royce of Bozeman, Montana was attacked by otters while floating down the Jefferson River with two friends on August 2
- The attack lasted five minutes and the otter left Royce’s face and extremities badly injured. She also said she believed the attack was going to kill her
- According to experts, otter attacks are incredibly rare. Only an estimated 59 attacks have even taken place with injuries or fatalities worldwide since 1875
- Graphic warning: Some of the photos in this story may be disturbing
A Montana woman who was tubing in a river with friends survived an otter attack where she lost a chunk of her ear and said was worried she would not survive.
Jen Royce was celebrating her birthday on the Jefferson River in Bozeman when she and her friends had their bodies ravaged by an angry otter who snuck up on them.
‘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, 37, wrote in a Facebook post detailing the event.
The attack lasted roughly five minutes, according to the woman’s post, which shared photos of her face, partially torn earlobe, and bruised and scraped arms and legs.
‘Without ANY exaggeration, God’s honest truth, I did not think I was going to make it out of that river,’ Royce wrote, ‘I had no clue if my friends were going to make it out. But by the grace of God we did.’
Jen Royce (pictured) and two of her friends were attacked by an otter while enjoying a day on the Jefferson River in Montana on August 2
The attack lasted roughly five minutes, according to the woman’s post, which shared photos of her face, partially torn earlobe, and bruised and scraped arms and legs
Royce said the attack was horrifying and that they could not fight back because of the chaos of the situation and the depth of the water they were in.
‘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,’ Royce wrote.
The group was in the middle of the water near the Three Forks and the Lewis and Clark Caverns when the attack began just before dark.
‘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,’ she wrote.
‘My friends were bit on the hands and on their bottom. One friend’s thumb was shredded, and she had bite marks all over her body as well,’ wrote Royce.
The group was eventually able to get away from the animal and then waited just over 50 minutes for help to arrive thanks to the iPhone’s SOS feature.
Royce described the time waiting for paramedics as painful and scary. She said she felt faint and was terrified that if she closed her eyes, she would die.
‘I made the choice, knowing the pain it would cause my friend to tell her I loved her and to ask her to watch over my kids,’ she said.
Royce’s injuries were severe and
Royce lost a chunk of her right earlobe in the attack
The mom of three suffered puncture wounds across her body
Royce suffered massive scrapes and bruises across her body during the attack
After one friend ran some two miles to find the paramedics in the middle of the wooded area, first responders eventually came to the womens’ aid.
Royce described being found as one of the most hopeful moments of her life.
‘I cannot explain how seeing those lights felt. I was hopeful again. They found us. THEY FOUND US. We weren’t alone anymore,’ she wrote in her post.
Royce – who had the worst injuries of the group – was flown by helicopter to a local hospital while her two friends was treated on scene.
All three women were ultimately given rabies treatments as a precaution.
The Montana mother underwent surgery for her injuries and had a section of her earlobe resected. She still is recovering from puncture wounds on her extremities.
Overall, she says she is just grateful to be alive after a scary incident.
‘I am lucky, and I am grateful, and I am alive,’ she added.
She has since shared an update on Facebook thanking friends and strangers for reaching out and supporting her and her loved ones during this time.
A GoFundMe started to help cover her medical expenses has raised more than $7,000 of its $6,500 goal.
Royce in a photo update from more than a week after the attack
The woman underwent surgeries for her injuries and has been recovering in the weeks since
These are the remains of bandages used after one redressing, Royce wrote in a post
A GoFundMe started to help cover her medical expenses has raised more than $7,000 of its $6,500 goal
Since 1875, there have been less than 60 known or reported cases of otter attacks resulting in injuries or fatalities worldwide
According to biologists, attacks like the one on the Montana mom of three and her friends are incredibly rare.
Since 1875, there have been less than 60 known or reported cases of otter attacks resulting in injuries or fatalities worldwide.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is now advising visitors to the potential dangers.
‘While attacks from otters are rare, otters can be protective of themselves and their young, especially at close distances,’ Montana FWP said.
Jeff Ewelt, executive director of ZooMontana, echoed Montana FWP’s statement.
‘In the wild, they are pretty territorial animals, especially around their young and and especially if resources are scarce,’ said Ewelt.
He said that while the situation is rare, anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation should be prepared to fight back.
‘Fighting back is going to be the best option,’ Ewelt said.
‘Because they’re not going to give up on you, especially if you’re in the water, they’re going to try to eliminate the threat,’ the executive director continued.
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