Author Archives: Adam Taylor

Where’s the Marmot?

If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter, you may remember our post on “Is that a Marmot or a rock?” Now we have a more challenging edition for you, in one of our favourite games: Where’s the Marmot?

Here’s the original picture from Crew Leader Mike Lester at Mt Washington. Answer below the picture, so don’t scroll down if you don’t want spoilers!

photo by Mike Leste

 

Find it? Center of the frame sitting on a large rock.

But if you thought that was too easy, this one will challenge you!  Warning, as before the answer is posted below, so don’t scroll below the picture if you don’t want spoilers. This photo is by Adam Taylor from Steamboat Mountain:

Marmots, Steamboat Mtn 017-EditHere’s the same picture, cropped to make it a bit easier:

Marmots, Steamboat Mtn 017-2

Found it yet?

Marmots, Steamboat Mtn 017-3

Hidden away in the rocks is just the way the marmots like it! A clear view of potential predators and lots of escape routes to get away quickly. This is an untagged yearling, and its presence is great news for the Steamboat colony!

Update from our first helicopter flight of the 2016 season

During this flight we were primarily using radio telemetry and looking for tracks in the snow to find marmots that had woken up from hibernation, and was focused on the southern colonies. But the crew also used the opportunity to install a feeder at Steamboat Mountain on the Clayquot Plateau.

Alan, the Bamfield Marmot, is awake and active as he was detected using radio telemetry! So were Sylvia and Quarry, two pioneer marmots. The crew saw marmots at Mt Arrowsmith, but they did not have transponders, so we’ll have to check on up them later to find out who they were. A little marmot mystery!

The marmots are getting active! More to updates to come.

Safety Training

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.

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The 2016 Field Crew

Say hello to our 2016 Field Crew! Yesterday was the first day of training, but soon the crew will be in the mountains monitoring, feeding, tagging, and releasing marmots.

Field_Crew_2016

 

 

 

From left to right: Mike Lester, Noberto Pancera, Joey Chrisholm, Andrew Horsfield, Marina Gray, Jordan Leigh Cormack, and Cheyney Jackson.

Not in the picture are Marmot Keeper Alana Buchanan, Wildlife Veterinarian Malcolm McAddie, Office Coordinator Kim Metz, and Executive Director 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.

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Our Marmot of the Month is Alan
The ocean is lovely, but it is not marmot habitat. So when we received a phone call in 2015 from the seaside Bamfield Marine Science Centre about a marmot at their facility, we were skeptical. It made no sense. There are no marmot colonies, no marmot habitat, and no reasons we could fathom for a marmot to be anywhere near Bamfield.
We requested evidence. To which Dr. Reynolds and his students responded by sending us a photo. Of a marmot, on the beach. It’s hard to say whether this mystery marmot was enjoying his visit to the shore, or confused about the lack of alpine flowers, but regardless, he was there, and we figured he might need some help getting back to mountains. With the help of Dr. Reynolds and his students, we were able to trap the marmot now dubbed “Alan,” and release him to the colony at Haley Lake Ecological Reserve.

At this point, you may have some questions. Where did Alan come from? We don’t know. How did survive the minimum of 50km (and probably much more) of forests, rivers, and inlets between the nearest marmot colonies and Bamfield? We don’t know that either. Does he enjoy surfing and nibbling on eelgrass? Please stop.

Why did Alan travel all that way? Well, yes, we don’t strictly speaking know that either, but we can guess at this one. At 2 years old, many marmots, particularly males, leave their birth colony to look for new potential mates. Sometimes, they get lost or pick the wrong direction. When you consider the vast mountain wilds and the relatively small and hidden marmot colonies, it is remarkable that marmots ever manage to find another colony, though many do. Our guess is that Alan however picked the wrong direction and then just kept going.

Alan has continued his adventures, though thankfully choosing to stay in marmot habitat. After a three year tour of the Nanaimo Lakes region, he returned to Haley Lake, and is currently hibernating with Muffin. Hopefully, in the summer ahead Alan will finally try out being a Dad!
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Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in the Marmot Technician and Marmot Keeper positions. We received over 350 applications for the positions, and will be reading all of them over the next couple weeks.

While we would love to hire everyone, unfortunately we only have a few positions available. Your enthusiasm for the marmots and our work warms our hearts during these cold winter months.
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