Montana Woman Who Was Airlifted To The Hospital After Otter Attack Shares Gruesome Pictures Of Battle Scars

Jen Royce Otter attack
Jen Royce/NBC Montana

One woman is counting her blessings tonight after surviving one of the most brutal otter attacks the wildlife community has ever seen.

Earlier this week, three women were floating on inner tubes along the Jefferson River in Montana when they encountered two otters drifting along in the water with them. They claim that they did not provoke the animals or disturb them in any way, but something aggravated the otters and they brutally attacked the trio of tubers.

Based on their accounts, they had no time to prepare for the fight or warn each other that the otter attack was about to take place. The speed of the otters and the depth of the water (the women weren’t able to stand) gave the upper hand to the otters, who did substantial damage in a short amount of time.

After fending off the otters and getting back to shore, one of the women called 911, and the Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson Valley Ambulance, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, all responded thanks to the SOS location feature on one of the woman’s cellphone. One of the more able bodied women had to waive down the first responders, and Jen Royce, who shared the story on her Facebook page, was airlifted to the hospital.

Royce said in her statement:

“As some of you may or may not have seen on news outlets by now, there was a river otter attack two nights ago on the Jefferson River.

That attack was on two of my best friends and I while we floated the river to celebrate my birthday.”

Turns out that the trio of women were celebrating Royce’s birthday on the tubing trip, which was ultimately ruined by the otter attack.

Royce’s account of the incident matched the timeline that was initially reported, saying:

“Around 8:15pm the otters attacked us. It lasted maybe 5 minutes? I really cannot remember. We were in the middle of the river in a deep and wide stretch that went far back from the road and behind the mountains.

I saw one otter right behind my friend before it attacked. I didn’t even have a chance to get the words ‘there is an otter behind you’ out of me before it attacked her.”

Royce goes into detail about the rescue effort in her post, revealing that the first responders struggled momentarily to locate them by the river. Once they did get to the three of them, Jen was designated to receive a life flight to the hospital. She described the scene as:

“I was given pain relief and a warm blanket immediately, strapped to a stretcher, and loaded in to the helicopter to head to Bozeman Deaconess.

It was an eerily beautiful flight through the night over the lit up town of Bozeman, MT. Once at the hospital I was met by 8-12 staff in the ER who treated me with so much care.”

Royce was met with intense medical care immediately, and it was quickly clear that she would need surgery. After getting stitched up, they scheduled a surgery for the next morning that ended up lasting over 5 hours. She continued in her statement:

“I have more stitches in my body than I can count. Besides my face, I have puncture wounds to my left ankle, both legs, back of my right thigh, both arms, both hands, and all fingers.

My left ear is split in half from the top to the bottom and is being held together with some kind of yellow bandage and stitches on both sides.

I have lost almost half of my right ear. But I am lucky, and I am grateful, and I am alive.”

Certainly a very scary scene out in Montana, and most definitely a warning to take otters as seriously as tourists treat bears, bison, and other wild animals.

The National Park Service always recommends to keep more than enough distance between yourself and wild animals, though it seems like Jen and her friends might have accidentally (and unknowingly) gotten themselves into a dangerous situation with the otters in Montana.

A Go Fund Me has been started for Jen, so help out if you can:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock