First Marmot Release of 2018 on Vancouver Island

Marmot Recovery Foundation

(June 26th) we released the first 3 marmots of the season. Stuart, Flores, and Sidney joined the colony at Mount Washington Alpine Resort with seeming enthusiasm.

Born in captivity at the The Calgary Zoo, this the first time these marmots have experienced the wild, and the speed with which they made that transition was impressive. Within moments the marmots were exploring the world around their new home, and sampling the local vegetation.

There are still more marmots from the The Toronto Zoo to be released, but it is great to see the first ones out adapting so quickly after their release!

Field Crew Norberto and Jordan help veterinarian Malcolm get the marmots into their new home. Its a new and frightening experience for the marmots, and they don’t always want to go. Malcolm and Norberto position the trap and encourage the marmot to go into the nest box by tickling its feet.

The marmots today were poking their heads out immediately. These are two of Flores, Sidney, and Stuart.

Within a couple minutes, the first marmot is out! This is quick, often the marmots will spend 5 to 15 minutes in the familiar nest box before emerging.

Looks like this marmot has already picked out her/his favorite lookout rock.

Time to explore, and coax the others out of the nestbox! As tempting as it is to stay, we need to let them be for bit. They are in the middle of the Mount Washington colony, and should be safe to explore their new environment.

About the Vancouver Island Marmot

The Vancouver Island marmot(Marmota vancouverensis)  is one of the rarest mammals in the world. Thanks to recent recovery efforts, the population has increased from a low count in 2003 of less than 30 wild marmots living in a handful of colonies to an estimated 200 marmots on 28 mountains in 2016 (counted at hibernation).

The Vancouver Island Marmot is listed as Endangered under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA) and by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species (COSEWIC). It is a Priority 1 species under the BC Conservation Framework and classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.  

Recovery efforts are bringing the Vancouver Island Marmot back from the brink of extinction, but work remains to be done to ensure it has a secure future in the wild.

Other Marmots

There are 15 marmot species in the world; all are found in the northern hemisphere. The Vancouver Island marmot  is the only uniquely Canadian marmot and the only marmot specifically found on Vancouver Island.

Three other marmot species are found in Canada. The Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata) is found in alpine elevations throughout the coastal mountains on the mainland of British Columbia and in the United States. The Yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris) is found in the lower slopes and grasslands of  British Columbia, Alberta and the United States. Finally, the common woodchuck or groundhog (Marmota monax) is found in the valley bottoms, lowlands and lower slopes throughout North America.

See Daniel Blumstein’s website:  The Marmot Burrow for a list and description of all 14 marmot species found in the world.

Make a Donation

The Vancouver Island marmot recovery effort relies on the cooperation and support of the provincial government as trustees of the marmots, the forest industry as landowners and you the public as concerned citizens. Sharing the burden and responsibility in a cooperative rather than confrontational environment enhances the chances of long-term success. Without cooperation of the major stakeholders, recovery of this precious species would be impossible.

If saving our uniquely Canadian marmot and securing our diverse heritage is important to you please make a donation now.

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Just print this form and mail it to the Marmot Recovery Foundation together with a cheque, money order or credit card information. Note: Please make cheques payable to the Marmot Recovery Foundation.

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