Author Archives: Adam Taylor

First Marmot of 2016 spotted today

Jim Vallance of West Coast Helicopters reported seeing the first Vancouver Island Marmot of 2016 at one the southern colonies today (April 14th)! More updates coming soon.

Owlkids give Herman a checkup

Owlkids sent their interpid reporter Ireland to visit the Toronto Zoo to give Herman the Vancouver Island Marmot a checkup. This was way back in 2014, but its too cute not to share!

Work for the Marmot Recovery Foundation this summer!

The Marmot Recovery Foundation is seeking summer wildlife technicians. We are looking for enthusiastic, hard-working individuals that have a passion for wildlife conservation, love to work outdoors, and want to contribute to the success of our exciting recovery program for the endangered Vancouver Island Marmot.

Number of positions: 6 full-time, short-term positions.
Contract length: May 2 – August 31, 2016, with some possibility of extension through September. Project base: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

Main tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Hiking for several hours a day on steep, rugged, mountainous terrain with a 10-40lb backpack.
  • Precise and consistent collection of inventory, survival, and reproduction data based on radiotelemetry detections and visual observations.
  • Accurate and timely data entry.
  • Live-trapping and care of Vancouver Island marmots under the direction of the project veterinarian.
  • Driving 4×4 trucks on active logging roads, and occasional use of ATVs and/or snowmobiles.
  • Willingness to camp on trips of up to 10 days in length (sites often accessible only by helicopter).

This project is based in central Nanaimo. Meeting times can start as early as 4am and field days can be very long. In the past, we have hired exceptional individuals that lived outside of Nanaimo; however, all candidates MUST expect to drive to Nanaimo for the start of each field day. No reimbursement for personal fuel or mileage will be offered. Due to the short length of the field season and the high likelihood of weather-based scheduling changes, candidates must be available to work each day within the contract period.

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The Force Awakens: Calgary celebrates Star Wars with Marmot Pups

“The Force Awakens”, but hopefully the Vancouver Island Marmots sleep through Christmas! Meet Luke & Leia, Han Solo (hopefully not “solo” for long – we need them Marmots breeding!), Jabba,& Yoda. These captive bred marmots are “A New Hope” for the species. At the Calgary Zoo, these Star Wars theme named pups will be part of the next generation of Vancouver Island Marmots released into the wild in 2016.

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Adam Taylor joining the Marmot Recovery Foundation

Adam Taylor is joining the Marmot Recovery Foundation as the incoming Executive Director. Over the next month he will be assuming Viki’s role, as she retires to new adventures! In a while, we’ll have some notes on Viki’s retirement, and all that she has accomplished on behalf of the Marmots. But first, an introduction from Adam:

“The story of the Vancouver Island Marmot is a remarkable one, and I am very excited to start playing a part in that story, albeit a small and backstage one.

While I am new to the Marmots, I do bring some experience in conservation and in protecting species at risk. For the past 8 years I was the Executive Director of Habitat Acquisition Trust, a local land trust that works to conserve natural areas and species in the Greater Victoria-area. For me, the opportunity to help the Marmot was too great to pass up. Vancouver Island Marmots are a special animal in ways, and their story gives me hope for the future of other endangered species struggling to hold on in a changing world.

The Marmot Recovery Foundation and our partners have done a remarkable job of bringing this uniquely Canadian species back from the very brink of extinction. Thanks to work of caring individuals and communities, the population of wild Vancouver Island Marmots has risen from a low of 27 in 2003 to around 300 today. In the times we live in, it is rare to hear of such success in recovering an endangered species, and heartening for all of us who care for our planet’s wildlife.

Adam TaylorHowever, conservation is never without challenges, and I know that we still have our work cut out for us. At 300 marmots, there are still fewer marmots in the wild today than there are Giant Pandas (1500 to 3000), Mountain Gorillas (about 800), or Siberian Tigers (about 500). The Marmot continues to keep company with the most the endangered animals on Earth. At same time, new threats are emerging to jeopardize Marmots. Climate change is occurring much faster in the Marmots’ alpine habitats than in the low-lands, and significant changes are already being observed. Lower snowpacks and warmer winters may make it harder for marmots to hibernate. As well, a rising tree-line brings deer and elk browsing for food, and with them come other predators, for whom a marmot might be an easy snack. There are political challenges too – government funding cuts, and shifting priorities.

Despite that, I remain optimistic. Extremely so, even. The reality is that it has taken a community to launch and sustain the rescue of the Vancouver Island Marmot. While I speak of the work of biologists, zoo keepers, and veterinarians, it is the support of donors who have made their work possible. Donations have been and continue to be the largest part of the funding that enable biologists like Cheyney Jackson and Mike Lester, and wildlife vets like Malcolm McAdie to do their work.

I am looking forward to meeting you, and working with you to ensure that Vancouver Island Marmots are part of our future.”

Adam Taylor
Vancouver Island, BC

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2 days ago

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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