Police officers fatally shot an otter Wednesday after it bit a woman who was taking a video of the sleek critter seemingly “playing” with children on a Rockland beach.
Rockland police officers took the otter’s body to the Maine Center for Disease Control in Augusta on Thursday morning so it could be tested for rabies, according to Rockland Deputy Chief Chris Young.
The otter was a river otter, not a sea otter, according to Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols.
Police received two calls Wednesday about the otter — an aquatic mammal that Young said he hasn’t seen Rockland police deal with in his 22 years with the department.
The first call alerted police that the otter was in the South End area of Rockland Harbor, according to Young
With the help of Maine Marine Patrol, officers tried unsuccessfully to capture the otter so they could relocate it.
The otter was underneath Archer’s on the pier before making its way to Sandy Beach and then farther over to two large cement silos located near the beach, according to Rockland police Animal Control Officer Troy Peasley.
“It seemed kind of out of place,” Young said. “It was getting fairly close to kids. They just assumed it was playing.”
The second call, which came in around 4:30 p.m., was more sinister. The otter had bitten the leg of a woman who was taking a video of the otter coming ashore on Sandy Beach.
The woman was treated for her injuries, which were not considered life-threatening, at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Young said.
After the attack, the otter retreated to the bushes along the beach, which Peasely said police closed in order to capture and kill the otter. When the otter came out of the bushes a Rockland police officer was able to shoot the animal. In order to be tested for rabies, an animal must be killed.
Young urged people not to interact with wild animals, even if they may seem playful or friendly. Instead, people should call authorities so the animal can be relocated to a safer place.
“If you see an animal on the beach or anywhere in your travels, especially if it’s a wild animal, don’t assume it’s friendly,” he said.
This is the only report of an otter Rockland police have received this summer, Peasley said. The results of the rabies test are expected to be ready Friday afternoon.
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