‘They wanted to kill me’: Swimmer attacked by otters in California lake

A Californian man feared for his life after he was shredded by the teeth of two angry otters

Amelia Neath
Friday 03 November 2023 19:41 GMT
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'They wanted to kill me'- Swimmer attacked by otters in California lake.mp4

A man who went swimming in Serene Lakes in California thought his life was in extreme danger when he was attacked by a pair of aggressive otters.

In an odd sequence of events, this is the latest of various reports of otters attacking people in California; other reports have also been noted in other states.

Matt Leffers was left with around 40 puncture wounds all over his body after he was ambushed by otters at the lakes on 3 September, describing it as “by far the most terrifying experience I’ve had in my life.”

Mr Leffers owns a cabin with his family near the lakes and has been visiting the picturesque area for over 30 years, but has never left the area fearing for his life; he told KCRA in an interview.

He said that he was out for a swim in the lakes when he felt something bite his calf and then felt another bite just seconds later.

He started swimming rapidly away when another otter popped out of the water in front of him and bit him again.

"These things were so aggressive that, literally, I felt like they wanted to kill me," he said.

"It is by far the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in my life. Nothing even comes close."

After he couldn’t get away from the otters by swimming, his wife came to save him on a paddleboat.

Mr Leffers was taken to hospital, where he sustained cuts on his body from at least 12 bites.

The victim said that months later, the bites have left scars from where he was attacked.

The local outlet spoke to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who revealed that another otter attack had happened earlier that year in July, as well as dogs also falling victim to the vicious otters.

"I think the fact that I’m the second person attacked here this summer, it’s a big red flag," Mr Leffers said to the outlet.

Peter Tira, a spokesperson from the CDFA said that otters will not usually attack anyone, but if they feel their territory is being encroached on, they will try to defend it.

The department also speculates that "the abundance of fish in the lake is a likely cause for otter presence and behaviour,” they wrote in a community letter obtained by the outlet.

“Nature is not a theme park; there are real risks that you have to be mindful of, ” Mr Tira said.

Mr Leffers was attacked by the angry duo at Serene Lakes

However, Mr Leffers is more concerned with what the officials will be doing with the otters after he is the second person to be attacked in months.

“They need to mitigate the situation before somebody gets killed," he said.

Officials say that residents should limit fish stocking in the non-swimming section of the lake to reduce the fish population, a solution that Mr Leffers labelled as “wimpy.”

He told the outlet he believes the otters should be removed.

Another Californian has gained online popularity as reports of the animal terrorising surfers and biting their boards.

Known as “California’s angriest otter,” scientists have theorised that the otter was aggressive because she was pregnant, as she had recently given birth to a pup.

Back in August, Succession star Crystal Finn was also hospitalised after an otter had attacked her while she was also swimming in California.

This happened days after another woman named Jen Royce was severely injured in Montana in an otter attack, that left her with slashes on her face and other parts of her body too.

Ms Royce said she received “more stitches in my body than I can count” after being airlifted to hospital.

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