Someone somewhere has lost their monkey, and it seems to be roaming the streets of Campbell River.
Early Friday morning, a local cab driver spotted what he believed to be a monkey in the area of Hilchey Road and Eardley Road after it ran in front of his vehicle. He mentioned it over the radio to Bee Line Taxi dispatcher Mary Allin about 2:30 a.m.
“It was just a passing comment that the driver had made,” she says. “We just sort of joked around.”
Allin says the driver knew the animal was not a raccoon or any other creature, even though his glimpse was brief. The animal turned and looked at the driver, who almost ran into it.
“He had to slam the brakes to avoid hitting the animal,” she says, adding, “Not what you’d expect to see.”
In addition to the quick time frame, the driver did not typically use his phone to take pictures, so he did not get an photograph of the animal.
From the description, he gave to Allin, she believes the animal is probably a capuchin, though she is not sure. She heard about another monkey on the loose in a community further south, perhaps the Cowichan Valley and Qualicum Beach, but doubts the animal could have travelled all this way on its own. However, she thinks if it got in a vehicle somehow, it could be the same one.
The conservation officer service was contacted after another worker at the taxi company posted information about the animal sighting on a local Facebook page for lost and found animals, so they are on the lookout for it.
“Somebody lost it and that’s why my co-worker posted it,” Allin says.
At the same time, conservation officers are also looking for a cougar that has been spotted in the Campbell River area.
Eight different species of capuchins are on a list of prohibited alien species, as are several other monkeys, and they are illegal to own unless “grandfathered in” – in other words, owned prior to changing regulations. As part of the Wildlife Act, the Controlled Alien Species Regulation controls the possession, breeding, shipping and releasing of alien species that can pose a risk to the health or safety of people, property, wildlife or wildlife habitat. Anyone seeing the animal should contact the conservation service. They can be reached through the hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).
The province did not regulate these kinds of animals until 2009 when it changed the rules and designated more than 1,000 dangerous animals as controlled alien species. Anyone with questions about these species can contact the province at 1-877-855-3222 or email ControlledAlienSpecies@gov.bc.ca.