River otter in Dillingham tests positive for rabies

A river otter in a box
(Bryan Reiley/ADF&G)

A river otter in Dillingham tested positive for rabies this week. Construction workers were at the Dillingham harbor, near LFS, a commercial fishing supplier, Monday morning when they called Fish and Game to report an otter “acting aggressively.”

Wildlife Biologist Bryan Reiley responded to the call.

“I went down there to see it, it was completely covered in porcupine quills,” Reiley said. “Which is not normal. It’s now jumped from fox, to at least otters, and given the amount of porcupine quills it had on it, maybe even porcupine.”

It’s uncommon for otters and porcupines to interact. Both species tend to stick closer to water and land respectively. Fish and Game also found a baby otter near a pond by the Nushagak Power Plant. Reiley suspects it may belong to the rabid otter, which was a female, but returned the baby to the water.

“I don’t know the prevalence, like how rabies transmits to the young,” he said. “If they were still feeding on the mother’s milk, maybe it was transmitted to them? More than likely, I think they’re not.”

Three cases of rabies have been reported in Dillingham foxes this spring. If an otter acts aggressively or is far away from the water, it could have rabies.

If you are bitten by any animal, get medical help immediately.

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