DULUTH - A woman training for an upcoming Ironman event suffered 25 bites and claw marks after being attacked by an otter in Duluth's Island Lake on Wednesday evening.
KBJR-TV in Duluth reports that Leah Prudhomme didn't suffer any serious injuries, in part, because she was wearing a wetsuit at the time of the attack. Prudhomme says she has been swimming on Island Lake for years.
"I've done seven half-Ironman races as a sponsored athlete," she said. "I also coach and teach clinics on preparing your first triathlon and most people's fear is open water swimming."
People don't typically fear an otter. About 12,000 otters populate rivers, streams and lakes across Minnesota, according to Ron Moen, of the Natural Resources Research Institute. He says the mammal is the largest aquatic carnivore that lives mainly in the Northland. Experts say they usually prey on clams and fish, but that was not the case on Wednesday.
"I was swimming out through here, out to the far island, so if you just kind of you jump over the bog to the backside ... That's where the otter attacked."
"There have been 40 attacks in 20 years in United States. Most of those attacks occurred in Florida," said Moen. He said there are likely just a handful of reasons behind the attack.
"Either the animal was unhealthy, rabid or otherwise. Or it was a mother and mothers can be fiercely protective of their young," Moen said.
Prudhomme says the attack will not keep her from swimming in Island Lake or continue training for upcoming Ironman events.
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