Marmots invade Swiss Matterhorn area, delighting tourists, annoying farmers

2017-09-14 15:55:43 GMT2017-09-14 23:55:43(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

GENEVA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Tourists find marmots cute, but some authorities want to shoot the furry rodents which they say are plaguing Switzerland's famed Matterhorn region, Swiss Radio SRF reported Thursday.

Visitors to the Matterhorn region love the animals and their warning whistles. In Zermatt, there is even a marmot trail, and kiosks sells postcards featuring the podgy critters.

But as popular as these rodents may be in photo albums, local residents are finding they are becoming a menace.

Normally, marmots live several hundred meters above the tree line. Many have, however, been making their burrows down in the village of Zermatt, damaging farmers' fields and stealing from houses.

"If someone leaves a balcony door open, marmots sneak into the house. They also dig beneath retaining walls," Romy Biner-Hauser, Zermatt's mayor, told SRF. "Now we have to do something; it can't go on like this."

Peter Scheibler, head of the Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife Department of Valais canton where the Matterhorn is, said, "Probably one reason for this is that they aren't hunted much."

He said marmots are also "optimally protected in areas where humans live, because predators don't approach them there".

Farmers in Zermatt are particularly hard hit by the influx of marmots. Shepherd and organic farmer Paul Julen can no longer use one of his fields because of all the marmot holes.

"The risk of accidents is very high when there are so many marmot holes in a meadow," he told SRF, noting that he almost lost two newborn lambs that had fallen into a marmot burrow.

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