A man is pushing for wildlife officials to improve safety after he was attacked by otters in a California lake.
Matt Leffers was swimming in Serene Lakes, near Lake Tahoe, on Sept. 3 when two otters bit him at least a dozen times, and he ended up with 40 puncture wounds all over his body.
He called the encounter a life-and-death situation.
"These things were so aggressive that, literally, I felt like they wanted to kill me," Leffers told KCRA. "It is by far the most terrifying experience I've ever had in my life. Nothing even comes close."
Leffers said he was swimming when he felt something bite his calf multiple times, and it kept biting as he tried to swim away. Then, as he tried to escape, another one popped up in front of him and started biting.
Leffers was eventually saved by his wife, who pulled him onto a paddleboat and then took him to the hospital.
It's the second otter attack at Serene Lakes this summer, the first happening in July, according to KCRA.
"Fish and Wildlife has been very wimpy in their response," Leffers told the news station. "They need to mitigate the situation before somebody gets killed."
River otter attacks on people are rare, but the animals are a predator species and will defend their territory if they feel threatened.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife sent a letter to the Serene Lakes community, saying the abundance of fish is likely the reason for the otters' presence and aggressive behavior, per KCRA. The agency also warned against swimming in the lakes for the remainder of the season.
Wildlife officials are reportedly monitoring the situation to determine a possible strategy for dealing with the otters.