‘It’s an unusual creature’: Sightings of Yellow-bellied marmot spark hunt in Nanaimo

'It's an unusual creature': Sightings of Yellow-bellied marmot spark hunt in Nanaimo
WatchWildlife experts have been on a unique search in south Nanaimo, where a creature that shouldn't be here has been turning heads.

With traps in hand, Mike Lester rushed to the scene of the latest marmot sighting in southern Nanaimo on Friday.

“It’s an unusual creature we don’t normally see on Vancouver Island. Makes a high-pitched like chirping sound,” said Mike Lester of the Marmot Recovery Foundation.

Wildlife experts combed the area and posted wanted signs to catch the potentially invasive yellow-bellied marmot that shouldn’t be so far from home.

“This is a stowaway that’s made it’s way over from the Mainland. We want to trap this marmot to take it back to be with its kind over on the Mainland because we don’t want it to mix with Vancouver Island marmots which are critically endangered species,” said Lester.

The small cat-sized rodent was first spotted over the weekend in Christina Myres backyard.

“My husband said ‘Shhhh come see,'” said Myres. “It was just like who is this cute little thing.”

After doing some research, the family called in the Marmot Recovery Foundation who then staked out their yard.

“So it’s been very exciting, for the whole neighbourhood,” said Myres.

The marmot has been recorded using the family’s slide and interacting with pet chickens. But each time, seemed to be one step ahead, of those trying to contain it.

“It’s a bit like whack-a-mole where it’s giving us the runaround,” said Lester.

Until, Wednesday afternoon, when it returned to Myres backyard.

Experts suspect it likely travelled over to Vancouver Island in construction material or a car, as yellow-bellied marmots have been known to stow away in, in the past.

“With all the construction going on around here there’s a lot of places that they could have migrated over on construction materials,” said Lester.

The marmot was captured safe and sound, Wednesday afternoon and will be returned to the Mainland soon.

If anyone sees a yellow-bellied marmot on Vancouver Island they’re urged to call the Marmot Recovery Foundation, to get the little creatures back home, where they belong.

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Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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