Roger the yellow-bellied marmot in the “wild” at the Fairmont Emnpress Hotel.

A colony of one

Roger the yellow-bellied marmot at home at the Fairmont Empress Hotel

  • Jul. 4, 2013 5:00 p.m.

Each year visitors travel from all over the world to stay at Victoria’s iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel.

In 2008, one guest arrived, and never left. Roger the yellow-bellied marmot, a non-native species to Vancouver Island, is believed to have taken a cue from a beat poet and hopped aboard a vehicle heading west.

He eventually took up residence in the hotel’s Centennial Garden.

“He’s made himself quite a nice little condo in there,” says Michael Yarr, comptroller general and head of the hotel’s environment committee. “You can see him on a hot day sunning himself.”

In 2010 when former environment minister Barry Penner caught wind of Roger, the province intervened with two failed attempts to live-trap him, but the little guy couldn’t be caught.

“The implication is that he shouldn’t be here and shouldn’t establish a colony because he’s not indigenous, and I guess that’s true,” Yarr says. “But it’d be pretty hard to start a colony of one.”

The stubborn little hotel guest doesn’t face much competition for food and shelter – the native Vancouver Island marmot remains MIA in Victoria and is one of Canada’s most endangered creatures.

Since Roger, named for one of the hotel’s former managers, couldn’t be enticed by peanut butter traps, he’s become a favourite of hotel guests and employees alike.

“We all look forward to him coming out of hibernation every year. After the first person has a Roger sighting, it runs around the hotel like wildfire,” Yarr says.

Roger wasn’t expected to survive his first wet West Coast winter hibernation, but five years later, the rotund rodent is still winning hearts.

But the joy the flower-nibbling fiend has brought his fans is tempered by an inescapable woe.

“One thing you really think about is that he doesn’t have any company,” Yarr says. “He’s all by himself and he has been for years.”

Just Posted

Victoria city councillors advocate for better measures to reduce sexual violence in downtown bars

A motion coming to council this week asks for more action from liquor establishments

Downtown Victoria businesses cite parking issues as top challenge

A report put forward by the Downtown Victoria Business Association asked owners for input

Pair of Saanich fires, including one that resulted in a death, remain under investigation

Saanich Fire expect to wrap up investigation into Richmond Road Tuesday

Wind gusts turn away cruise ships from Victoria harbour

Weather conditions make docking difficult for large ships

Tips from BC Ferries for travelling this Canada Day long weekend

Tips from BC Ferries for smooth sailing this Canada Day long weekend

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots… Continue reading

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Most Read