Author Archives: Adam Taylor

Happy Birthday Vancouver Island Marmots!

Today we are celebrating the birthdays of all our Vancouver Island Marmots! Now you might ask, how is it that all marmots are born on June 1st, and how do we know?

Peeking behind the curtain reveals that of course not all marmots are actually born on the same day, and we don’t know exactly when they are born. Marmot pups are born in the hibernaculum, and they stay in the warm dark den for about 30 days. We won’t actually see any pups until early July, when they first start to explore the world beyond the burrow.
We do know that the pups are born around June 1st, and it’s just convenient really to roll over all the ages all on the same day.

So here’s to a very happy birthday(-ish) to all the marmots, and our wish that lots of pups are recently born, being born, or about to be born on the mountains!

A Star Wars Update for May the 4th Day!

A small update on some of our “Star Wars” marmots: It turns out that, Jabba and Amidala hibernated together! We detected them alive yesterday in the same hibernaculum. Hopefully they’ll be out the burrow soon – and maybe some pups will follow them later in the year!

Here is “Hanna Solo” peeping out from the nest box back when we released these marmots in 2016.

Thank you Hans Helgensen!

Recently, Executive Director Adam Taylor gave a presentation to Kindergarten classes at Hans Helgensen Elementary on Vancouver Island Marmots. Adam taught them about their habitat, hibernation, and some of the challenges that Vancouver Island Marmots face.

We were absolutely delighted to receive a pair of beautiful thank you coloring books! These are a just a small sample of the wonderful drawings and facts the students shared.

Thank you for having us Hans Helgensen!

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First Marmot Signs of 2018

It’s time! The first Vancouver Island marmot emergence hole of the year was spotted today at Mt Washington by Field Coordinator Mike Lester. Mike notes that there are no tracks, but at least two of the marmots are detectable and alive! This is right on time for the marmots, and very exciting for us!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-15,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Marmot Love is in the … Burrow?

What the Vancouver Island Marmot needs is more marmots, and for that we need to encourage marmot romance! But what are the ingredients for a successful marmot entanglement? To be honest, we do not know everything that goes into making a marmot couple, but we are aware of a few trends:

Marmot who sleep together stay together: Marmots who hibernate together often produce litters the following spring. This is why we often highlight these hopeful pairs in the fall; they are a great bet to have pups soon. It’s not a sure bet though.

The way to a marmot’s heart is through its stomach: Feeding a litter of 3 to 5 hungry baby marmots takes a lot from a mother marmot’s body. As does seven months of hibernation.  Female marmots need to be in peak physical condition if they are to have pups, so we look for marmots that have great body condition. Speaking of which…

Every marmot needs a break: The demands of babies and hibernation is too much for a marmot’s body to sustain every year. Most females take a year break between litters for their bodies to recover. We do not expect a female who had pups last year to have pups again this year.

Dad’s on the clock: Male Vancouver Island marmots often play an important role in raising their litter, including watching them while mom is out feeding – something she needs to do a lot of!

Keep it outside the family: With such a small population, inbreeding is a serious concern. Through strategic releases, we strive to make sure that marmots have unrelated, eligible partners to choose from.

Always full of surprises: Despite our best-laid plans, the marmots keep us on our toes. New marmots move into colonies, or out, when we least expect it. Marmots partners we were sure were set break up when a new mate suddenly appears. There is lots for us learn about marmot love!

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Marmot Recovery Foundation

Spot the Marmot! (this one is very hard).

A bit of backstory to this photo: we received a report of a Vancouver Island Marmot on a residential property on Saturday. Field Coordinator Mike Lester went out to have a look and found this frightened guy hanging out in the woodshed. Mike was able to trap the marmot, and transport him to the Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre.

This fellow will be re-released to a colony once he has a clean bill of health.

He is easy to spot once Mike caught him, but see if you can find the marmot's fur in the first photo.
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Happy Father's Day to all our Marmot Dads! Vancouver Island Marmot fathers play an important role in rearing pups. They play guard and teach socialization skills to the energetic youngsters.

We still have another few weeks before we learn who is mom and dad this year, as the young marmots will not emerge from the burrow until early July, but we're hoping for lots of new dads out there!

Thanks to Alena E.S. Conservation & Photography for the photo.
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Field Coordinator Mike Lester spent part of his Sunday catching this Yellow-bellied Marmot that was accidentally transported to Nanaimo. This marmot is now at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre waiting for transportation back to the Interior.

Why don't we want marmot tourists on the Island? First, marmots are most likely to thrive in areas where there are others of their species. Second, we don't want to transmit diseases between marmots species that would not normally encounter each other.

Just how are these Yellow-bellied Marmots getting to the Island? We don't know for sure, but we suspect they arrive in construction materials and large hay bales that may look like good burrows. Once these items start to move, the marmot may just hunker down for the ride. Another possibility is that they crawl into the underside of cars, which Yellow-bellied Marmots are known to do. Again, they may just hunker down until the end of the trip.

Regardless of whether it is a Vancouver Island Marmot or Yellow-bellied, if you see a marmot on Vancouver Island, let us know!
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