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Part of Lassen Volcanic National Park closed after angry otter bites swimmer

A five-acre section of Manzanita Lake at Lassen Volcanic National Park in Shasta County has been closed by officials after a man was bitten by a female river otter last Thursday, reports the Record Searchlight.

According to Lassen Park Superintendent Jim Richardson, the swimmer was attacked by the mother otter when he got too close to her kittens.

Richardson speculated that otters had gotten used to swimmer-free waters after the recent lake closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The last month we were closed pretty much because of the coronavirus. Perhaps the otter got used to no people and now the people are invading. It's the protective momma [doing her job]," Richardson told the Searchlight.

The momma otter will not be removed or tranquilized, as she was displaying normal behavior. "That is a common thing with all wildlife. As long as the behavior it shows is natural like this one is, where it was protecting its babies then we would not remove the animal," the superintendent said.

While otters are known to carry rabies, the unnamed swimmer's injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Andrew Chamings is an editor at SFGATE. Email: Andrew.Chamings@sfgate.com | Twitter: @AndrewChamings

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