Recreationalists treated for multiple otter bites

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Warning signs are posted around a reservoir at a popular Foresthill area campground after separate otter attacks on two people. The signs alert visitors that swimming is not advised because of the otter attacks. The first occurred July 1 and the second two days later. In the first attack, a 17-year-old Monterey girl swimming in Sugar Pine Reservoir was bitten on her arm, foot and leg. The second involved an adult male swimming in the reservoir July 3. The man was attacked by two otters and was treated for severe injuries at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, said Troy Swauger, state Department of Fish and Game Department spokesman. Swauger said a warden tracked down a mother and a pup the night of the second attack and dispatched the mother. The pup is believed to also have been killed but it swam down in the water and was not found, he said. A rabies test on the mother otter came up negative, Swauger said. "It's unusual for river otters to attack humans and more than likely that they were feeling threatened and in their protective mode," he said. "Because of the viciousness of the attacks, it becomes a public safety issue." Tahoe National Forest spokesperson Ann Westling said that the Sugar Pine campground host was initially advised by the Placer County Sheriff's Department to verbally warn campers about possible swimming precautions. Fire crews subsequently posted signs around the lake warning about the risks. "It's a good reminder for anyone to remember the forest is home to a lot of wildlife species," Westling said. "People need to remain cautious and aware." The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at