Yellow-bellied marmots found on Vancouver Island


WATCH: Two yellow-bellied marmots found in Oak Bay and Nanaimo are a threat to the endangered Vancouver Island marmot.

The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRC) in Errington has a new guest and it’s not very happy to be there.

“He does his chirping sounds when he’s a little stressed out,” said Tawny Molland of NIWRC.

“So when you do go in there you’ll hear lots of chirping and he tries to hide. He does not come out to say hi, he likes to stay under the logs or stay away and he does get a little loud.”

The yellow-bellied marmot was captured Sunday on a property near Buttertubs Marsh in Nanaimo.

“It was seen by a local resident munching on her daisies and petunias and then it was detected in the engine bay of a vehicle and that’s where it was hunkering down and it didn’t want to leave that area,” said Mike Lester of the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation.

The yellow-bellied marmot is one of two that recently came to the Island. Another one was found in Oak Bay and is now at the SPCA in Victoria.

A third has been here longer. “Roger,” as he’s called, now lives around the Empress Hotel but is rarely seen.

These creatures are not native to the island but seem to like catching rides here.

“We suspect that it might have arrived by hitching a ride in the engine bay of a truck or it could have been in a hay bale or there’s another theory that it might have come over with construction materials like in pipes and things like that,” said Lester.

The species shouldn’t be here at all and they’re a threat to the endangered Vancouver Island marmot. There’s only about 150 of them left and the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation has spent years trying to restore their numbers.

“We don’t want any disease transmitted from other marmot populations that could take the form of something like an unusual parasite that the Vancouver Island Marmot isn’t equipped to deal with,” added Lester.

The yellow-bellied marmot being taken care of in Victoria suffered burns to its feet on its trip here so it will need longer to recover.

Yellow-bellied marmots are social animals and need to be with other marmots so they likely wouldn’t survive very long on the island.

The plan is to see if the two yellow-bellied marmots, the one at the SPCA and the one at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre will pair and if they do, they’ll be taken back to the B.C. Interior within a few weeks.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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