(Update: Adding video, information)
Yellow-bellied marmots an issue at three campuses; extermination planned
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Last year, NewsChannel 21 reported on a rockchuck infestation at Hugh Hartman Elementary -- and they're back this year, at two other Redmond schools as well.
The Redmond School District is reporting rockchucks (also known as yellow-bellied marmots) at Hugh Hartman Elementary, where they were found last year, and now also at Redmond and Ridgeview high schools.
“In the last few weeks, we have seen an increase in rockchuck activity,” school district spokeswoman Sheila Miller told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday.
That's likely because rockchucks are just now waking up from hibernation.
Miller said while the problem is an issue at three school campuses, it's the worst at Hugh Hartman.
“There’s a lot of holes in the ground that can be dangerous for little kids running around, and we also see a lot of feces," Miller said. "They leave their mark everywhere.”
The damage at Hugh Hartman Elementary can be found on the campus's southeast side, while the damage at Redmond and Ridgeview high schools can be found on the campuses' fields.
The school district will be working with U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to exterminate the marmots.
“Rockchucks are adorable, but they can be a problem at schools," Miller said, "and we just really want our kids to be safe and healthy. And the best way to do that is get this contained before it gets any worse.”
According to Miller, there's no timeline for the extermination, but she acknowledged it's something they hope to take care of as soon as possible.