In less than a month, unusually aggressive otters have attacked two Minnesota women swimming in lakes about 60 miles apart.
The latest victim, Carol Schefers, 38, of St. Michael, was swimming at her family’s cabin on tiny Ude Lake near McGregor, in Aitkin County, last weekend when something suddenly nipped her beneath the dark, rum-colored water.
“The first thing you think is fish are attacking,” she said Thursday. “I thought, ‘Wow, these fish are feisty.’ ”
She tried to shake off the attackers, but they kept biting, seemingly trying to pull Schefers, wearing a life jacket, underwater.
“All of a sudden, bam, bam, bam,” she said. “I thought, ‘We’ve got big muskies here.’ ”
She began struggling, screaming as she flipped on her back. That’s when she saw the otters’ eyes and whiskers.
The two otters left 18 bite marks across her legs, ankles and arms before her husband hoisted her into the boat. At a nearby hospital, doctors, never having treated an otter attack, gave her antibiotic, rabies and tetanus shots as a precaution. She still is recovering.
The other recent attack happened last month north of Duluth, where Leah Prudhomme of Anoka was training for a triathlon on Island Lake. An otter peppered her with 25 puncture marks, some 2 inches deep, its fangs shredding her wet suit.