Author Archives: Adam Taylor

Poor overwinter survival in Strathcona troubling

Sadly, this winter many marmots in the Strathcona region did not survive to the spring. We have lost 36 marmots, a significant percent of the population in the Strathcona region. As well, there are a number of marmots we have not been able to locate yet, and we do not know their fate.
 
We also do not yet know why there was such poor survival this winter in this one region, but we are working hard to find out. One possibility is that the summer drought last year reduced the fall foliage that marmots rely on before going into hibernation. Hopefully we will learn more in the weeks ahead.
 
While we are deeply saddened by this discovery, there is good news as well. In the Nanaimo Lakes region and at Mt Washington, marmots did quite well overwinter, which is a great relief.
 
Plus, due to monitoring efforts, we know about this decline. That gives us the opportunity to learn and respond.
 
Finally, while troubling, these deaths will not push the Vancouver Island Marmot to the brink of extinction. They are a stark reminder of work still ahead of us, and how fragile the marmots’ place in the wild remains, but it also reminds us of how far we have come over the past 13 years. 
 
Now we go work to learn what we can, and continue towards our goal of a secure place in the wild for our marmots. Despite this setback, the only reason that marmots have not become extinct is because of our generous donors.  Thank you so much for caring for this beautiful creature.  Your gifts help everyday as we rebuild the populations
Adam Taylor, Executive Director

Marmot on “Marmot-y” Peak

Marmot in “Marmot-y area”
 
Over the last few years, crew members have often looked at a nameless mountain bowl between two known marmot colonies and thought it would be a great spot marmots. But until today, we’d never seen any there. 
 
Andrew and Marina were hiking between the colonies when they spotted a marmot in what Marina has dubbed “Mercedes Mountain” (the peak looks like the Mercedes logo when viewed from Google Earth).
 
Our mystery marmot has ear tags, so perhaps we’ll be able to figure who it is that has finally moved into this spot. Hopefully it’s as good a home as we think it is!
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Photo by Andrew Horsfield

An Interview with Cheyney Jackson

As part of filming “The Perfect State”, Mike McKinlay interviewed Cheyney on the mountains observing Vancouver Island Marmots.  The result is beautiful and moving.

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.

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Vancouver Island marmots are emerging from hibernation. This is wonderful news, but also a challenging time of year for the marmots. As they recover from 7 months of sleep, the marmots rely on the last of their stored energy reserves. Once they have reinvigorated their digestive system, they are able to find food, even in the snow covered mountains. Conditions in the alpine this year are fairly normal, despite the poor weather we have had at lower elevations.

We have put out feeders, targeted to help females improve their body condition rapidly. In turn, we hope they will breed more often than they would without help.

The BBC did a great segment on the challenge Vancouver Island marmots face this time of year:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svm6yqKx-Go
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Our first marmot rescue of the season is complete!

Late last year, we learned of a family of Vancouver Island marmots that established themselves near Knight Lake. We knew from past experience that they would not survive long low elevation, unsuitable habitat and sought to capture and relocate them. We were able to catch two pups and the father, but the mother and another pup eluded us. With winter coming, we struggled to decide how to give these marmots, especially the breeding age female, the best survival chance possible. In the end we made the decision to release the father back to the cutblock with a transmitter that would enable us to track him and his family again in the spring. This meant that we could follow up as early as possible in the spring to get them out.

This year, by tracking the transmitter, our crew was able to find the marmots in the spring snow. Our veterinarian, Malcolm McAdie, with crew members Norberto and Steve, snowshoed in and captured the mother. We’ll return once a bit more snow has melted to capture the father and other pup. Malcolm, Norberto, and Steve hiked the mother out – not an easy task with a marmot on your back! She will be released to a marmot
colony later this summer, hopefully with her yearling and the father.

By the way, the mother is the first marmot to be named this year. First on our name-a-marmot winners list was Vanna. Given where she was recovered from, we have dubbed her Vanna Knight!
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The marmots are starting to emerge from their burrows! We've spotted an opened burrow on Mt Washington, and then one of our Field Crew, Jake, spotted these wonderful marmot tracks on Mt Albert Edward in Strathcona Park! The season is just beginning, and many of the marmots are still in hibernation, but we are excited to see these first signs of emergence. ... See MoreSee Less

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