Imagine you’re walking along a path and you encounter an overpass. On one side of the sidewalk, there is a hillside covered with rocks and on the other side there is a small gravel area and then a creek. Like this:
Sitting in the small gravel area, are two people in camping chairs, facing the rocky slope, eating and reading books.
Would you think this was strange? Would you have the nerve to say something to these people? Or would you stare straight ahead, hoping they wouldn’t lure you over with a chocolate cupcake?
What if I told you there was a marmot in those rocks? And these people were trying to trap it, so it could be returned to the mountains where it belonged?
That wouldn’t seem so crazy, would it?
You better be shaking your head no, because that’s exactly what we did about two years ago….
One day, on my regular walk during lunch (because I am very diligent about my exercise routine, as you all know), I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. There was this creature standing on one of the rocks, up on his hind legs, surveying the area.
Now, I’m no expert on the genus Marmota, but this was certainly a yellow-bellied marmot, and he was not supposed to be living this close to the Cherry Creek Mall. If he needed a new winter coat that badly, he could stop at the outlets in Silverthorne – much closer to his desired habitat of 6,500 feet or higher.
I contacted the Division of Wildlife and was essentially told that if I trapped the marmot, they would take him back to the mountains. Um, okay. You’re the Division of Wildlife, and I’m a nurse who works in an office and have had zero training in setting traps, handling a wild animal, and preventing the spread of zoonotic disease, but sure, I’ll give it a go.
Instead of going right to the animal trap store, because that would be silly, I made a few more calls and was finally referred to Jack. Jack was a very busy man. You see it was raccoon season and he had a huge shipment of raccoon feed coming in for all the rescue raccoons residing in his backyard. But, he’d already had calls about this marmot. Yes, my marmot was famous. He’d been tracking the little guy as he made his way down the creek, from one neighborhood to the next.
I convinced my boss to let me go early, because, duh, there was a marmot that needed tending to at the creek, and this took precedence over people with complaints about their healthcare.
Jack set up his trap and we watched and waited, and watched and waited. An hour and half later, Jack had to go. There were more raccoon centric chores that had to be done and it was getting late.
That’s when my poor husband got involved. The next day we tried the trap that my dad let me borrow. We set up our chairs and intently watched our baited trip on the rocky hillside. Within minutes a bunny sniffed out the booty. I jumped up and shooed the saboteur away. A few minutes later he returned. And again, I shooed him away. As soon as I was about to panic, the marmot’s head appeared from within the rocks. He scampered over to the trap, triggered it and then ran right out. The trap was too small.
So the next day, we went to the ranch and home supply store and asked for the traps.
“What’re you trying to trap?” asked the man.
“A marmot,” I said.
He shrugged. “That’s a first.”
I shrugged back and sipped my iced soy latte with cinnamon.
“You’ll want the raccoon sized one,” he said.
I nodded like this was quite obvious.
We placed the trap and waited. Now it seemed like he’d never show himself again. More and more people started to pass. We got strange looks, curious looks, sideways looks and suspicous looks.
A few people came right up to us and asked what we were doing. I began to keep a tally. Passerby’s fell into three categories: avoids eye contact, gives strange/distrusting looks, or says something. At the end of the day, most people fell into the ‘avoids eye contact’ category.
We spent almost the whole day there and yes, the marmot did show himself. He walked right up to the trap, gave a sniff and then grabbed onto it and shook it. When it didn’t trigger, he walked around to the to the back, stuck his hand through the bars and tried to reach the food. He couldn’t reach it, but he also didn’t go back in the trap. He’d figured out.
We tried again a few more times, but never caught him. Then one day I never saw him again. I tell myself he found a ride back to the mountains, and now he bores all his marmot friends with the story of how he outsmarted two humans and ran off with their apple.
44 thoughts on “To Trap a Marmot”
Ah, well, you tried. Which is more than I can say for the Division of Wildlife. How helpful they were…not!
This was fun to read. Love your writing style. 🙂
I have a feeling the Division of Wildlife is mostly interested in pocketing hunting and fishing licensing fees. But it was quite the experience, and it gave me the trapping knowledge (and the trap) I needed to catch that cat a few months back 🙂
Is a marmot like a marmoset? I thought they only lived in Switzerland in the Alps? Anyway, I would be really confused if not for the drawings, which helped a lot. And now, like a Weird Al wannabe, I will rewrite an old song just for this occasion…
Marmoset there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, my marmoset… (marmoset, marmoset)…
come on… sing it with me now…
I just looked up marmoset and no, they are not a New World monkey species. That would be really weird.
And I get the feeling you’re making fun of my drawing skills, but I’m singing anyway because that is a really good song.
I never do anything that discourages artistic expression!!!
marmoset, marmoset… thanks. Thanks a bunch.
oh yeah… stuck in your head forever…
He looks like one of those Canadian beavers!! Can’t see his tail, but he looks like Trent might have something to do with this…..
I wouldn’t put it past him.
I would say Trent definitely had something to do with it. He’s like that.
What a funny and cute story. Did you do the drawings? So funny. I am eating a salad driving with chopsticks. My car looks just like yours. I was rolling on the floor.
Thanks! Yes, I did the drawings. Not my best skill, but I think they turned out all right 🙂
oh god. I just realized that I could click on the pictures to make them bigger. Thanks. I was going to ask what the people in the cars were talking about. And complain that they were hard to see… You saved me Marcy!
Now that I have looked at them closer, I have found the humane trap as well. I used one of those when I had squirrels in my garage.
Sorry. I guess I should have made that clear 🙂
Ha! It worked out, and I loved it! Exactly what I would expect from you my crazy friend Jennifer! 🙂
Amazing that I actually knew how to do something on the computer that was of help to anyone!
I thought you were pretty funny telling Jennifer you were driving your car eating salad with chopsticks! Then saying your car looks just like hers! That there is taking driving to a whole new level! We aren’t supposed to talk on cell phones and drive here, unless you have that fancy schmancy blue tooth!
I’m so glad you’re blogging again. You always make me smile.
Thanks! Sometimes I get a little busy and then fall out of the groove, especially with the move.
😀 I know what that feels like.
Great story. Shame it didn’t have a happy ending, but yes, let’s all imagine that he (or she) got a ride home and then founded the Marmot Exploration Club for those marmots who would like to see the world…
Yes, perhaps the raccoon guy finally trapped him, or some other wacky citizen willing to sit outside all day and stare at a hillside.
I think the Marmot Exploration Club sounds fabulous. I’m sure it includes all you can eat greens and sunbathing by the pond!
Oh my goodness the pictures add to the story, so much, and I loved them. The way you told this story reminds me of Hyperbole and a Half. If you haven’t heard of this look it up. You will find hilarious stories with even more awesome illustrations, my favorite one is called Menace 😀 Enjoy!
I’ve heard of Hyperbole and a Half, but I’ve never been to the site. I’ll have to check it out!
Be prepared. Make sure your bladder is empty. She is so very very funny! You know. Like you. 🙂
JENNIFER!!!! YAY!!!! Ok, I loved the diagrams, they made following the story so much easier! I would have smiled and said “hi”. If I noticed the trap I might have inquired. Had I been informed of the task at hand I would have gotten involved. Maybe the marmoset was simply vacationing, or running away. Or moving to another location. Maybe he found out you were moving and wanted to go with. Keep an eye out for him Jennifer! 🙂
Oh yeah, and it was nice of the Division of Wildlife to be so helpful. They were willing to save you the trouble of bringing it back where it should be…
Yeah, it wasn’t the response I was hoping for.
Yes, I probably would have helped too if I would have been brave enough to ask. I most likely would have stared straight ahead and mumbled to my husband about the weird people sitting under the overpass.
I’ll keep an eye out. I haven’t seen any marmots around here. I hear they have fisher cats, though, but I haven’t seen any of those either.
darn Art got me calling the poor little guy a marmoset! It will probably take him a little longer than it took you to get there, you know, trying to navigate by foot and all, probably doesn’t even have gps…. I hope fisher cats don’t eat marmots, you may never see him again.
Ahhh Jen, I laughed at this story. Smart little guy wasn’t he?
Thank you! Yes, he figured out that trap pretty quickly. I think it’s pretty common, though. You have one chance for the trap to trigger and catch them, because they’re not likely to go in it again.
I know some folks would rather shoot them as “vermin,” but I think marmots and their groundhog cousins are cute. 🙂 Great story and illustrations!
Yeah, I rescued a baby squirrel once and I think most people thought I was nuts, saying things like, “they’re just rats with fluffy tails,” but I can’t help myself. I’m a sucker for animals 🙂
That’s such a cute story! I find it so funny that you were eating cupcakes and reading books as you were waiting for the marmot. That’s definitely going further than most people would have!
Sounds like it’s a bit like trying to herd cats though.
Let’s hope the little guy decided to get himself a new fur coat from the other mall before heading back to the mountains…..
I had a feeling it would take awhile, so we came prepared to entertain ourselves. But watching people’s reactions became far more interesting than my book 🙂
Great story. I love it when we give wild animals a funny story to take home with them. If I was a children’s author (I’m not), I’d write and draw a picture story about the cute humans playing a game with me.
Yes, I was thinking I could turn the story into a Children’s book! Maybe one day…
LOL! Sounds like something I would do! 🙂
Glad to know there is someone as crazy as I am out there 🙂
I prefer to think of it as being ‘creatively logical’…. 🙂