Residents at war with marmots in Zermatt

The Local
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Residents at war with marmots in Zermatt
Photo: Caroline Bishop

Switzerland’s most famous rodents are beloved by tourists, but residents of the Valais town of Zermatt are less enamoured and are taking matters into their own hands, according to Swiss media.


“In certain areas it’s really bad. The marmots even go into apartments when the balcony door is open,” communal president Romy Biner-Hauser told Swiss daily Blick
Local rangers have already shot some marmots to curb the population, and rules are being put in place to allow people to shoot the animals outside the hunting season. 
However many residents have chosen not to wait for the new regulations and have taken matters into their own hands.
In September two farmers were convicted of animal cruelty for attempting to kill marmots in their fields, said Blick. 
And according to local vet Silvio Loosli, marmots are being shot, smoked out of their burrows and injured with glass shards placed at exits, actions he feels are “absurd”.
People need only wait a short time until the marmots go into hibernation, he added. 
Zermatt is thought to have a particularly large population of marmots, and even has a hiking trail named after them at Sunnegga. 
The furry rodents – which resemble larger, fatter squirrels – live all over the Alps in meadows and subalpine grassland. 
They are easy to hear, thanks to their distinctive high-pitched chirp, but are less easy to spot, disappearing into their burrows at the slightest hint of danger.
According to 20 Minutes marmots used to be eaten in Switzerland, which was a method of controlling their population. 
Though it is generally no longer eaten, a few restaurants still serve marmot meat which the paper describes as having a rabbit-like flavour. 


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