A yellow-bellied marmot that was spotted in Bernal Heights in June was finally found and captured at a school in nearby Noe Valley on Wednesday, a wildlife rescue expert said Thursday.
The marmot was captured at Alvarado Elementary School at 625 Douglass St., according to Rebecca Dmytryk, an animal expert with the Moss Landing-based Wildlife Emergency Services.
The animal had initially been spotted June 26 in Bernal Heights, but rescuers were not able to capture it and sightings stopped a few weeks ago, Dmytryk said. Some of the sightings were in backyards on Bocana Street.
On Wednesday, an Animal Care and Control officer was called to the school after the marmot was seen running out from under the hood of a car. He called Wildlife Emergency Services for help in identifying the animal, which he described as a mix between a ground squirrel and prairie dog, Dmytryk said.
The officer was notified that it was a yellow-bellied marmot and he was eventually able to capture it and bring it back to Animal Care and Control about 8:30 p.m., agency spokeswoman Deb Campbell said.
The animal is in good health and has been eating apples, Campbell said.
Staff members have noticed that the marmot has been whistling, Campbell said. She noted that the animals are nicknamed "whistle pigs."
"He's relaxing and waiting for his ride back to the Sierras," she said.
Dmytryk said a rescuer from her organization is picking up the marmot and taking it to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose for an examination.
The animal will then be taken up to the mountains, where she said it likely came from.
Dmytryk said yellow-bellied marmots are usually found at elevations of 6,000 feet or higher, but are often unwittingly transported elsewhere because "they're notorious for going up under hoods of cars after sweet-smelling radiator fluids."