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Hiker In The Middle Of Nowhere Suddenly Starts Hearing A High-Pitched 'Beep'

The Dodo logo The Dodo 8/19/2022 Stephen Messenger

Recently, Cameron Herbolsheimer was hiking with his dog in Washington’s North Cascades National Park when an unusual sound struck his ears. It was a high-pitched beeping type of sound — almost like that of a smoke alarm going off.

Despite being in the forest, miles from civilization, Herbolsheimer wasn’t entirely convinced the sound was natural in origin.

“I thought it could be an animal, but I wasn’t sure,” he told The Dodo.

So, Herbolsheimer moved in closer to see what — or who — was making that shrill noise. And sure enough:

Turns out, the sound was emanating from one of the region’s most iconic residents — a hoary marmot. The species, also known as whistle pigs, is known for their high, shrieking call. But this was news to Herbolsheimer.

“I have seen marmots before,” Herbolsheimer said. “But had never known they scream/whistle like that.”

More interesting yet, the marmot that day may very well have been “talking” about him.

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Had the marmot seen Herbolsheimer and his dog in the distance, she may have thought it prudent to give her marmot friends a heads up.

“[T]hese vocalizations are referred to as ‘alarm calls’ and marmots who hear them respond by immediately looking around and returning to their burrows if they are not already at one,” biologist Daniel T. Blumstein wrote in a paper on the subject. “Marmots typically alarm call when they see natural predators, such as coyotes, foxes, and sometimes when they see eagles and other large birds. Depending upon where marmots live and how used they are to people, marmots may alarm call when they see a person.”

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Fortunately, Herbolsheimer and his dog had no ill intent toward the loud little animal. After that encounter, he just kept on hiking through — his curiosity about the high-pitched sound having been happily satisfied:

"I was definitely surprised it was marmots!" he said.

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