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Roger the marmot emerges in Victoria in time for spring

Rockchuck that arrived in 2008 enjoys life on the wet coast

With an average life expectancy of 15 years, every spring longtime Victoria visitor Roger emerges is now cause for celebration.

Roger, named for a former manager at the Inner Harbour hotel, is a yellow-bellied marmot who first appeared on the Fairmont Empress grounds in 2008.

Spotted sunning in the gardens just ahead of official spring, the Empress happily shared images of Roger frolicking in the Centennial Garden on March 14. It documented the first sighting since last fall before winter hibernation.

Marmots are the largest of the ground squirrels in B.C. There are four species: hoary marmot, yellow-bellied marmot (also known as the rockchuck), Vancouver Island marmot and the woodchuck – all protected under the BC Wildlife Act.

Not native to the Island, it’s generally believed the critter hitched a ride to the Island. Roger belongs in the dry, low-elevation areas of southern-central B.C.

While the species typically lives in colonies of up to 20 members, it appears Roger plans to live out retirement under the watchful eye of visitors to the Inner Harbour. Unlike a fellow rockchuck that arrived under similar circumstances and was deported from Saanich two years ago, Roger has evaded trapping several times.

RELATED: Non-native marmot captured in Saanich moved back to B.C. mainland