Author Archives: Adam Taylor

A new Job Posting: Marmot Keeper

To further the recovery our favorite marmot, we have additional need for marmot care at our Mount Washington Centre, and are seeking a Marmot Keeper. Interested? Read on! Know someone who would be perfect? Please share!

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: February 18th, 2019

The Marmot Recovery Foundation is seeking a qualified individual to provide seasonal animal care to captive Vancouver Island Marmots at the Tony Barrett Mount Washington Marmot Recovery Centre on Vancouver Island. We are looking for an enthusiastic, passionate and responsible person to work on a unique captive breeding and reintroduction program involving a critically endangered Canadian species.

Contract length: Approximately May 1 to September 30, 2019, with some possibility of extension through October.

Contract structure: Fixed-term employment contract, starting at $2,780/month.

Qualifications:

  • Completion of a university degree in the life sciences (or equivalent) or current enrollment in a degree program
  • Or, training as an Animal Health Technologist
  • Or, a strong background and sound knowledge in animal management and handling. Experience with captive wildlife would be considered a strong asset
  • A detail-oriented mindset and keen observation skills
  • Ability to work independently while following specific directions and protocols
  • Ability to lift 22kg, and transport this amount of weight short distances
  • Strong communication skills, a positive attitude and an even temperament
  • Physical capacity and willingness to provide support to MRF field staff working at Mount Washington. This includes observations, radio-telemetry, and live-trapping of wild marmots which is conducted in steep terrain under variable weather conditions

Main tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Daily feeding, cleaning, observation and general care of captive marmots maintained at the Mount Washington facility
  • Assistance with animal handling and veterinary procedures (including anesthesia)
  • Maintain animal records
  • Basic building maintenance and security

This work is based at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island (near Courtenay, BC). Although the position is typically five days per week, there will be a requirement to work some weekends and holidays, with occasional long days involving early mornings and late evenings. Suitable candidates will be expected to have some schedule flexibility.  

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for three references to the Project Veterinarian / Captive Breeding Co-ordinator Dr. Malcolm McAdie at: animalcare@marmots.org.  Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.

Apply to join our Field Team this summer!

We are now accepting applications for our summer field team! 

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.    

Number of positions: 1-4 full-time, short-term positions.

Contract length: May 1 – August 31, 2019, with some possibility of extension through September.
Contract structure: Fixed-term employment contract, starting at $2,780/month.
Project base: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. 

Main tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Hiking for several hours a day on steep, rugged, mountainous terrain with a 30-40lb 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.
  • Camping 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 be 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 that weather will change work plans and scheduled days off, candidates cannot be assured of conventional weekends and must be flexible to work at any time during the contract period.

Successful candidates will possess:

  • A Class 5 Drivers License (or equivalent).
  • First Aid – minimum OFA Level 1.
  • A high level of physical fitness and stamina.
  • Experience with multi-day backcountry camping trips.
  • Experience driving 4×4 and all-terrain vehicles in steep, mountainous terrain.
  • A detail-oriented mindset and the ability to remember and follow specific directions regarding data collection protocols and animal care.
  • A commitment to adhere to safety protocols and contribute to safe operating practices.
  • Strong communication skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to contribute to a fun and supportive team environment.
  • Experience working around and caring for animals would be an asset.

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for three references to the Field Coordinator, Mike Lester, at: resumes@marmots.org.                

Applications must be received by 4pm Monday, February 11. Only those applicants chosen for interviews will be contacted. We anticipate scheduling interviews in the week of February 25. Some positions may be funded by Summer Jobs Canada. Additional eligibility requirements may apply. Short-listed candidates will be invited to a non-mandatory field experience day in late February. This event will facilitate candidate demonstration of backcountry fitness and aptitude for learning specialist techniques.

January’s Marmot of the Month: Haida

We use this picture a lot. It is a beautiful photo by Oli Gardner of a mom and pup pair bonding in typical Vancouver Island Marmot style by touching noses. But the photograph takes on more meaning when you understand the story of the marmots captured in it too.

The marmot mom on the right is Haida, the first captive-bred female to wean pups successfully in the wild. On the left is one of those pups.

Haida was born at the Mountain View Conservation Centre in 2002. Two years later, she was among the very first marmots released. At the time, we did not have much experience breeding marmots, and Haida was in the just second group of marmots ever to be released. In her case, her new wild home was Haley Lake Ecological Reserve, a park reserve created specifically to protect prime marmot habitat.

We have learned a lot since those first releases: the best age, time of year for the release, and how to minimize the marmot’s stress. Looking back, there are things we would do differently now. Despite these challenges and needing to learn to survive in the wild for the first time, Haida thrived in her new home.

She produced her first litter in 2006, and one of those pups is what you are looking at here. It is just possible the pictured pup is another remarkable marmot, Muffin. Muffin still lives at Haley Lake; now 12 years old herself. Currently she is hibernating with Alan, and we are hoping that the pair produce a litter of pups in the summer. If they do, it will add another chapter to Haida’s considerable legacy. 

In 2014, when Haida was at the advanced age of 12, veterinarian Malcolm McAdie recalls Haida would still get into mischief. “She would she would sit and wait while we baited the traps with peanut butter and then get caught repeatedly,” he says.

Haida passed away a few years ago, but her contribution to the recovery of her species lives on. 

December’s Marmot of the Month: Rudy

Meet Rudy, December’s Marmot of the Month. Are we going stretch to make a holiday theme by suggesting “Rudy” is short for “Rudolph”? You bet we are!

Aside from his name, Rudy resembles Rudolph in a three important ways.

First, there are, mysteriously, no photos of Rudy. We had him in hand one time back in 2016, and we’ve seen glimpses and signs, but he has deftly evaded all our camera traps! That sounds familiar….

Second, his name breaks the rhyming scheme of all his kin. At Rudy’s home on Moriarty Mountain, all the marmots names rhyme with “Forest”. There’s Rudy’s suspected mate Chloris, not to mention Morris, Horris, Borris, and Dolores. (Why the rhyming name scheme? The Field Crew gave them these names to irritate Don, our retired Field Coordinator, who felt that marmot names shouldn’t sound too similar. You see what we’re dealing with?)

Third, Rudy is definitely showing the way for his species. He may not have a red-nose, but we strongly suspect that he and Chloris have been busy making pups at Moriarty, which is one of the most successful Vancouver Island marmot colonies. More than that, Moriarty is a particularly steep, rugged site, and Rudy excels at climbing in the cliffs, showing his pups and the other marmots how to stay safe from predators!

Right now, Rudy is hibernating. His burrow, more than 2 meters underground, is safe and dry, unaffected by yesterday’s storm. We look forward to seeing him again next spring though!

Happy holidays everyone!

This is not Rudy, but an untagged marmot mom and one of her pups earlier this year at Moriarty.

That cliff and the steep bowl below is Rudy’s home. Not an easy place to get into!

November’s Marmot of the Month: Lucky Lucy

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.

Regardless, we feel fortunate to have her back! 

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The snow pack in the southern Nanaimo Lakes region is low this year. While there's still snow on the mountain tops as you can see in the photos, usually there is a lot more. For marmots, right now it means access to vegetation is little easier. But we'll hope for some rain this summer to keep the mountains green right into the fall. Both these photos were taken this Sunday in the Nanaimo Lakes region. ... See MoreSee Less

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Hulk lives! Yesterday the field team visited Mt Arrowsmith, and were able to confirm a number of marmots were active, including one of the largest wild Vancouver Island marmots we’ve ever met. Last summer, Hulk weighed in at an impressive 6.2 kg (approximately 14 pounds). That’s … very large for marmot.

This soon after finishing hibernation, Hulk is likely considerably down from his mid-season weight, but hopefully he’ll put the pounds back on over the next few months. We also noticed an unidentified marmot hanging around Hulk, who we suspect may be his mate. Let’s hope so!
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This meeting of the marmots is now in order.

From earlier today at Mount Washington. Should we be concerned that the marmots are organizing? Great sight for the first field day with this summer's field team though!
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