ROCKLAND — Laurie Nevins says she did nothing to provoke the river otter that charged across a Rockland beach Tuesday and bit her on the ankle and foot.

“I always thought otters were friendly,” she said the next day.

video of attack:

Nevins, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is in Maine on an RV trip with her husband, Daniel, and their friends. They were collecting sea shells and looking for sea glass at Sandy Beach when a river otter came ashore and started chasing children around the beach.

“The thing was going crazy chasing them around,” Nevins said.

She raised her cellphone to capture a video and zoomed in. It rushed up to her, did figure-eights around her feet and then latched onto her foot and would not let go.

Nevins’ friend, Westley Marshall, attacked the otter with a scooper they had been using to pick up shells. Finally, he chased it back into the water.

Marshall said it was making a hissing sound.

Nevins said she and the group tried to flee from the beach, up a set of concrete steps, but as they were leaving, the otter returned.

“They’re yelling, it’s coming up the stairs,” Nevins recalled. “At that point I was an emotional mess, bleeding all over the place.”

video of interview:

Rockland police and the Maine Marine Patrol were called to the scene.

Marine Patrol Specialist Corrie Roberts said police had to shoot the otter because it had bitten a human and needed to be tested for rabies. The otter was sent to a state lab in Augusta.

Nevins is waiting to find out if the animal had rabies, and she may need to undergo shots to prevent her from contracting the illness. Because she was bitten in the foot, rabies would take longer to spread to the rest of her body, Nevins said.

Roberts said it is important for safety to stay away from wild animals and avoid contact with them. While river otters can appear playful, she said they are feisty wild animals.

Laurie Nevins is attacked by a river otter on Sandy Beach in Rockland June 27.

She said they normally would try to capture and move the animal in this situation, but once it has bitten someone they have to test it. As it was, police and Marine Patrol officers spent hours tracking the critter around the South End up to the Dragon Cement property and later back to the beach where it had returned.

Nevins and Marshall expressed concern about the safety of the beach and the children and parents playing there.

“If it had attacked a kid it would have been 10 times worse than attacking an adult,” Nevins said.

She and another friend, Christine Marshall, said they felt bad that the otter had to be shot, but stressed that they didn’t do anything to create the situation.

Nevins said it was a traumatic incident that will be with her for the rest of her life.

“It was like we were in a movie,” Marshall said.

Daniel Dunkle can be contacted [email protected].

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