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Chocolate diet is threat to marmots

Tourists are giving animals diabetes by feeding them unsuitable foods, warns an association in the French Alps

TOURISTS are unwittingly giving marmots diabetes by feeding them chocolate, warn animal experts.

An association protecting the animals in the Hautes-Alpes, Apvem, has raised the alarm over tourist behaviour in the commune of Eygliers, where marmots have become especially tame.

To attract them as close as possible, visitors have started giving them crisps, bread, and even chocolate, according to Apvem’s Cécile Corellou. “The problem is it has terrible effects,” she told Le Figaro. “A study on another site in the southern Alps where people have access to marmots has shown they are becoming diabetic and developing eczema.”

Normally marmots eat only leaves and vegetables.

Apvem plans to install signs warning about the problem, which it fears is a threat to the commune’s marmot population – around 40 individuals at the last count.

Catching sight of a marmot can be one of the pleasures of a mountain walk at heights of around 1000-3000m. However at Eygliers tourist leaflets invite people to visit a specific spot, with a dedicated path, to view the animals, which have become used to being watched.

© Mariusz Niedzwiedzki - Fotolia.com

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