The search is on for Otis, a missing llama who found his true family at a gun range off the Malahat.
The beloved feral Otis is no stranger to giving Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association shooters a scare as he regularly roams onto the range, causing an immediate ceasefire. But their current concern has been not seeing Otis for two weeks now. The association’s members and volunteers have been combing through the woods and flying drones in the area in efforts to find him.
Otis originally lived on property adjacent to the range, but there was never a fence holding him in, so he would regularly wander over. The property’s owner got old and moved on, but Otis stuck around.
“He likes us and he’s not afraid of firearm use,” said Doug Bancroft, the association’s president. “Every now and then you have to close off a rifle or a pistol bay because he’s at the far end where people are shooting towards.”
That laissez-faire attitude towards the active gun range initially earned the llama the nickname Waldo, as shooters had to always ask “Where’s Waldo today” before firing. It wasn’t until a little while later that the association learned their unofficial mascot actually goes by Otis.
“We’re very attached to him,” Bancroft said. “The kids love him, everybody does.”
Otis’ presence isn’t just felt downrange. The llama will let about a handful of members feed him by hand and he lets two others pet him. Otis wanders freely, but the association does bring in a vet once a year to give him a check-up. They even brought in another llama for him to meet to see if a rescue farm might be a better home for him. That plan didn’t work out.
“(He has) no interest in anyone but the range people,” Bancroft said.
During the search, Bancroft said they found some tracks left by Otis about a week ago, but there was also some black bear scat nearby. Otis has scared cougars away from the range in the past, but Bancroft fears he might have had a close encounter with a bear that spooked him. The search hasn’t found any evidence that Otis has been harmed.
The friendly llama is a bit of a homebody as he never strays too far from the range, and rarely travels more than half a kilometre away. A forestry company that neighbours the range has already assured them they’re also on the lookout for Otis, but Bancroft is appealing to the public to help find him.
In the past, Otis has been featured on the association’s merchandise, donning a pair of sunglasses and accompanied by the phrase “No prob-llama.”
“He’s pretty iconic and he’s not going to be around forever, but we’ve certainly enjoyed the six years since he adopted us,” Bancroft said.
Anyone who sees Otis can call 250-858-8342 or message the association’s Facebook page.
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