Captured Potrero Hill Marmot to be Returned to Yosemite Monday

A marmot that hitched a ride into San Francisco from Yosemite National Park two weeks ago was captured in a Potrero Hill backyard Wednesday afternoon, according to a wildlife rescue group spokeswoman.

A resident near 25th and Rhode Island streets reported that the marmot first appeared in the backyard about two weeks ago, Wildlife Emergency Services president Rebecca Dmytryk said.

The residents had been to May Lake in Yosemite and unwittingly had brought the ground squirrel back into the city with them.

Marmots are attracted to sweet-smelling radiator fluid and climb under the hoods of cars visiting their native habitat at elevations of 6,000 feet or higher in the Sierras, according to Dmytryk.

When the marmot was spotted again Tuesday hiding under the residents’ deck and eating greens, fruits and flowering plants from the residents’ garden, a Wildlife Emergency Services specialist prepared to capture the critter.

He arrived Wednesday afternoon and set two cage traps in the backyard, baited with sliced melon and apple drizzled with molasses in one and organic Fig Newmans in the other.

He left the garden and waited until the marmot was seen scurrying across the yard to eat a couple plums from a tree before finding a crumb of the Fig Newman.

The marmot then searched for more of the dried fruit cookie by following a trail of crumbs that led to the cage trap. The marmot found the entire cookie in the trap and was successfully captured.

The critter was taken to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for a health assessment and found to be healthy and disease-free, according to Dmytryk.

The marmot is scheduled to be returned to Yosemite Monday, she said. To help pay for the trip some 200 miles away and back, the Rock Bar at 80 29th St. in San Francisco threw a fundraiser Wednesday night.

The bar raised about $75 for the rescue group by sharing a percentage of the bill for all “Marmotinis”—a specially crafted cocktail made to look like radiator fluid, according to Dmytryk.

Runaway marmots are fairly common in the Bay Area. Last June a marmot that was loose in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood for several months became known as the “Bernal Marmot” and even had its own Twitter page.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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