A marmot that hitched a ride into San Francisco from Yosemite National Park two weeks ago was returned back to its home territory on Monday after being captured in the city’s Potrero Hill neighborhood last week, a wildlife rescue group spokeswoman said.
A resident near 25th and Rhode Island streets reported that the marmot first appeared in a backyard about two weeks ago, Wildlife Emergency Services president Rebecca Dmytryk said.
The residents had been to May Lake in Yosemite and had unwittingly brought the animal back into the city with them.
According to Dmytryk, 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.
When the marmot was spotted last Tuesday hiding under residents’ deck and eating greens, fruits and flowering plants from a garden, a Wildlife Emergency Services specialist prepared to capture the critter.
The wildlife specialist arrived Wednesday afternoon and set two cage traps in the backyard, baited them with sliced melon and apple drizzled with molasses in one and organic fig cookies in the other.
The marmot eventually found the cookie in the trap and was successfully captured.
The critter was taken to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for a health assessment and was found to be healthy and disease-free, according to Dmytryk.
The marmot was then released back into Yosemite at about 2 p.m. Monday, Dmytryk said.
However, the wildlife specialist who freed the animal reported that when the marmot was released, it ran down a trail into a parking lot and up under a parked Toyota Prius.
The wildlife specialist was able to lure the animal out of the engine compartment with blueberries after about two hours, Dmytryk said.
The marmot finally scurried out from under the car toward a cluster of boulders.
Wildlife Emergency Services is urging the public to be aware and remember to check under their car’s hood before heading out of Yosemite and other parks.
To help pay for the trip some 200 miles away and back, RockBar at 80 29th St. in San Francisco threw a fundraiser on 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. In June 2013, a marmot was loose in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood for several months. It became known as the “Bernal Marmot” and even had a Twitter page created in its honor.
Hannah Albarazi/Sasha Lekach, Bay City News