Defending the river otter from media sensationalism.
At the Uptown Art Fair over the weekend, I stood near to a lovely bronze sculpture of a river otter and, to my dismay, overheard comments such as "Did you hear that otters are attacking people now?" and "Oh, and I used to LIKE otters -- those attacks are so scary."
The artist said that she heard comments like these all day long. An Aug. 3 story ("Beware of otter: 2 more take bites out of a swimmer") was sensationalized -- I'm disappointed that editors didn't look more closely at the story and its implications.
With a front-page teaser of: "Cue the 'Jaws' theme: Otters attack again," and the structure of the article, the Star Tribune solicited an irrational fear response.
Here is a more-fitting headline: "Wild animals defend their young from perceived threats." Yes, wild animals bite, as do pets and even humans. (My own son bit another kid when he was a toddler.)
There were about 400 dog bites reported in Minneapolis in 2011, a vastly larger sum than the three reports of otter bites in Minnesota. Putting these incidents into perspective can help people have more respect for the wild river otter.
OAKLEY BIESANZ, ST. PAUL