Another sure sign that autumn is upon us: we have confirmed our first hibernating pair of marmots. While most marmots are still active, we expect to see more and more of them headed underground in the next few weeks.
Our early birds are Clapton and Aberfeldy, who are now tucked into a new hibernaculum at Greig Ridge in Strathcona Park. Aberfeldy was released to Morrison Spire in 2015, but made the 4.5km trip to Greig Ridge the following year. In fact, she surprised us by showing up during our planning trip the day before we released Clapton!
Marmots of this age that hibernate together often have pups the following year, and we have our fingers crossed that these two raise a happy family!
We often talk about marmots who get lost and need help, but many marmots travel through their mountainous landscape and somehow manage to find another marmot colony. Macallan is one such marmot.
Born at Mount Washington in 2014, Macallan was moved as a yearling to Mount Albert Edward in Strathcona Park. Our plan was that he would help this young colony re-establish, but Macallan had other ideas. Instead, over the next year, he made his way back to Mt Washington. At first glance it may not seem like a remarkable trip: Mt Albert Edward is only 12 km from the colony on Mt Washington as the crow flies. But it would be impossible for anyone, or any marmot, to make the trip in a straight line through a the mountains, valleys, and lakes that separate the two colonies.
It is fortuitous that he returned. The Mt Washington colony needed another breeding aged male, and Macallan fits the bill perfectly. We know better than to move him again!
Jordan Cormack, Field Crew member and Marmot Keeper at Mt Washington, shared this photo of Macallan preparing for winter at his new, old home.
Melissa Hafting captured these wonderful photos of Eowyn at Mt Washington earlier this month.
Eowyn was named by Toronto Zoo staff after a character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of Rings book. The character in the books is a fierce warrior, but we hope our marmot understands that discretion is the better part of valor. Marmots should “take on” predators with a brave whistle to warn the rest of the colony, followed by sensibly ducking into a nearby burrow, dug for just such an occasion.
Eowyn was released to Mt Washington on July 5th. She is just 1 year old, but hopefully in couple years she will have pups to share with us.
These marmots aren’t fighting, they are “pair-bonding.” While they push and pull, you can also see them touch noses throughout the video; a classic Vancouver Island marmot “love you boop”.
These marmots are on Flower Ridge in Strathcona Provincial Park. Marmots were extirpated from the Park by the 1990s, but with the funding from the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, and the support of donors like yourselves, we’ve been able to re-introduce the marmots back to a number of their historic colonies sites, including this one!
Their survival in the Park, and the wild, is still fragile, but if the romance continues between these two, perhaps we’ll see a population boosting litter of pups next spring!
The work of the Marmot Recovery Foundation is guided by the Recovery Plan for the Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) in British Columbia. The Plan is prepared by the Recovery Team, a group of government, academic, private sector, and independent biologists and scientists who provide strategic guidance to recovery efforts.
For us at the Foundation, this Plan guides our work and goals. We encourage you to read it to find out more about the Vancouver Island Marmot, its habitat, and our work to recover this unique animal. Click on the image below, or go the Provincial List of Recovery Planning Documents, and look for “Vancouver Island Marmot”.
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! ... See MoreSee Less
Do you have an old or faulty tripod that deserves a second chance at usefulness? The Marmot Recovery Foundation is looking for donations of up to 18 well-loved tripods to support wildlife cameras used to monitor marmots in very remote locations. As long as the tripod can stand securely, condition does not matter.
Requirements: 3 sound legs and stable when standing. The condition of the head unit does not matter (the camera will be strapped to the tripod). How to donate:
Drop-off Locations: We have two locations where you can drop off tripods, at our field office in the BC government building in Nanaimo, and at Habitat Acquisition Trust in Victoria.
Do you have an old or faulty tripod that deserves a second chance at usefulness? The Marmot Recovery Foundation is looking for donations of up to 18 well-loved tripods to support wildlife cameras used...