Marmot evades animal control in downtown Victoria

Marmot evades animal control in downtown Victoria
WatchA little creature is sparking serious concern after making a rare appearance in downtown Victoria over the weekend. As Julian Kolsut reports, there are worries the marmot could pose a threat here on Vancouver Island.

A marmot caused a scene in downtown Victoria Sunday after animal control tried to catch it on Yates Street.

In a video, the marmot can be heard chirping, before scrambling out from under the car, evading Victoria Animal Control Services.

“It got into the underside of a truck and it could not be found under the truck. It was well underneath the transmission and back of the engine somewhere,” said senior animal control officer Ian Fraser.

Other than the recovery effort for the Vancouver Island marmot further up north on the Island, marmots are not typically seen, especially in the downtown core.

“It’s almost certainly a yellow belly,” said Adam Taylor, executive director of the Marmot Recovery Foundation.

“Really grey fur, but without a really good look at its face I can’t be absolutely positive. But you can start by hearing that whistle, that constant chirp, so that marmot is experiencing a lot of stress.”

The first suspect was a known yellow-bellied marmot: The Empress Hotel’s Roger, who lives around six blocks away.

“Oh boy was that marmot fast, but it was definitely not our marmot,” said Tracey Drake, director of marketing at the Fairmont Empress.

“He was much to fast and quite a bit younger. Our Roger tends to be more on the yellow side, and he is also a bit portlier.”

Experts agree it’s unlikely Roger. They are left wondering where exactly the marmot came from.

There are a few possibilities. The first is they love to hide up under vehicles.

The second is that they also like hiding in construction materials. A construction site was next to where it was spotted.

“There was a marmot about five or six years ago. That showed up in Vic West, and it was accidentally brought to Victoria in the engine compartment of a car. They came from Tsawwassen,” said Fraser.

Over the years, several yellow bellies have found their way onto Vancouver Island in various ways, which threatens the Vancouver Island marmot.

“Our concern is that a yellow belly marmot shows up on Vancouver Island, it brings with it some disease and occurs normally in the yellow belly population,” said Taylor.

“Then somebody steps in some feces then goes into a hike on Mount Washington where we have Vancouver Island marmots and introduces a disease there.”

Marmots can also bite and transmit diseases. Officials say if you spot one to contact local animal control immediately.

READ MORE: New litter of Vancouver Island marmot pups born on Mt Washington

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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