Otter Chaos

9 Apr

Animal House was based on Greek life at Dartmouth, so I can only guess at what exciting cable movie will be made about the killer otter:

In a scene perhaps more typical of a Fox "When Animals Attack" special than Dartmouth crew practice, a river otter attacked crew coaches April 2 during the varsity heavyweight afternoon practice.

No one was injured, but the incident, which occurred seven miles upstream from the crew boathouse, rattled the nerves of all involved.

The otter, running along the shoreline ice before the attack, jumped into the river to play in the wake of the coach's launch, according to varsity coach Scott Armstrong, who was directing two eight-man boats at the time of the encounter. Volunteer coach Todd Pearson and coxswain Kate Johnson '06 accompanied Armstrong in the launch.

Armstrong turned off the motor to avoid injuring the otter with the propeller. With the engine off, the otter immediately tried to board the boat in the stern. Armstrong then grabbed a wooden paddle and attempted to fend off the animal, pushing the otter back into the water every time its head appeared over the edge of the boat. The otter, however, outmaneuvered Armstrong and climbed into the launch …

The otter promptly began to lunge and hiss viciously at the coaches, who frantically used paddles and a megaphone to try to force the animal out of the boat. After a short battle, the two parties reached a standoff – the hissing and glaring otter in the stern of the boat, the coaches armed and ready for action in the middle.

Suddenly, the otter attacked again. As the otter lunged over the bench in the stern, Armstrong swiftly used his paddle to flip the animal into the river.

The otter's aggression, however, did not end there. Shortly after the otter had returned to shore, the animal jumped back into the river, swimming directly toward the second varsity boat that was in the process of turning around. The boats immediately fled …

River users are advised to exercise caution and to avoid contact with the otter.

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