Otter attacks angler in Allegheny River

Franklin, Pa. — A river otter attacked an angler on Sept. 11 at the junction of French Creek and the Allegheny River, just off Ninth Street, adjacent to the Riverfront Park in this Venango County town.

At this issue’s deadline, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officers were investigating the incident, which occurred around 2 p.m.

Conservation Officer Ronda Bimber urged the public to notify her through the agency’s Northwest Region Office – at 814-432-3187 – with any information about the situation.

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

According to Officer Bimber, a 27-year-old Franklin man was wet wading and observed a river otter on the bike trail side of the river.

“The individual fishes the area often and said he didn’t find the presence of a river otter to be unusual,” she said. “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,” Bimber added.

“He made noise and slapped the water with his fishing rod unsuccessfully. The otter dove and proceeded to bite and scratch the victim.”

The angler sustained five bites to the leg and one on his big toe, along with numerous scratches to his legs, Bimber reported.

“The incident ended when he was able to kick the otter in the head,” she said.

Following the attack, the angler got out of the water to seek medical attention. As he left the water, he lost sight of the otter. 

He sought medical attention.

Later, a Game Commission spokesman in the northwest region said the angler started therapy to prevent rabies, and he suggested there was very little chance the attacker otter would be located in the expansive river.

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