In their first week, the crew is learning how to stay safe while working in the alpine. Travelling on snow and the potential for avalanches are part of the job, so its important to know how to detect dangerous situations. Fortunately the our crew is learning from the best! The Mount Washington Ski Patrol gave lessons on learning to dig snow pits to look for unstable snow layers that might indicate avalanche risk, and how to keep a safe distance from other members of your crew.
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.
November’s Marmot of the Month is Lucky Lucy, who truly has lived up to her name. Lucky was born in the wild at Gemini Mountain in 2016. For the past 2 years, she seemed to be doing great, and all indications were that soon there would be another breeding age female wild marmot.
Then, this year, Lucky’s story seemed to take a dark turn. Crew couldn’t see Lucky on their visit to Gemini, but her telemetry signal was weak and reading “slow”. At the time, we interpreted the signal to mean that she had died, though we noted that the signal was unusual. After that, nothing. We couldn’t find her signal at all.
That all changed in late August though, when on a trip to another colony nearby, the crew aimed the telemetry antenna across the valley, just to see if another angle would pick up Lucky’s signal. Against all odds, not only was her signal strong, but it was clearly “fast” – indicating she was alive and well! Since then, she’s been detected alive and well a couple more times, right where we left her on the top of Gemini Mountain.
Why did Lucky’s signal throw us for a loop? We will never know for sure, but rock walls can play havoc with telemetry signals bouncing them in odd ways. It is possible that Lucky ventured down off Gemini for a while, or perhaps she had dug a burrow under a particularly large rock.
#HappyThanksgiving to all our American friends! While we celebrated a little earlier here in Canada, it’s always worth taking the opportunity to express our thanks to the people who are making it possible to save the marmots. This species is here today thanks to you.
Our work to save the Vancouver Island Marmot has only been possible thanks to the gifts of donors and the support of partners. Our partners include The Calgary Zoo and The Toronto Zoo, whose expertise, facilities, and research support have been critical. Landowners TimberWest Forest Corp., #IslandTimberlands, and Mount Washington Alpine Resort have provided funding, donated land, and created new parks to protect the marmot’s habitat. The Province of BC has provided operating support, office space, and field equipment like trucks to make our work possible.
Our donors’ gifts have provided the financial support to pay the bills, and hire the exceptional, dedicated crew we need to get these marmots back into their wild habitat.
Together, you are showing that Canadians and the World care about our most vulnerable species and that, with work and time, we can save them.