Author Archives: Adam Taylor

Wild born marmots get names

While we and the media have been focused on the sad news from the Strathcona area recently, we also have good news to share. The field crew has been busy with yearlings on Mt Washington. These wild marmots were born last year, and there is a healthy crop of them at Mt Washington!

We give them each a name selected from our “Name-a-Pup” contest. Here are the names handed out so far this year:
– Kirby, male
– Mildred, female
– Rex, male
– Tracker, male
– Shiloh, female
– Roy, male
– Willellen, female
– Daisy, female

You can enter the “Name-a-Pup” contest by adopting a marmot. Your gifts from the Adopt-a-Marmot program enable us to do the recovery work the marmots need. Thank you!

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!

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While it is still early in the year for Vancouver Island marmots, our survey results so far have been positive. Overwinter survival for the marmots has been high, particularly among breeding aged females. This is exactly what we hope to find at this time of year. Later in the summer when pups start to emerge, we will be looking for signs of reproduction – that is to say active pups. We have feeders out at a number of colonies, which we believe may help the marmots reproduce more frequently. Our fingers are crossed that lots of those breeding-aged females have litters!

Many people have been asking about the weather. Vancouver Island has had a particular cold and wet spring, which followed a cold winter! However, it does not seem to have had any negative impact on the marmots. In fact, weather station data suggests that after a few mild alpine springs, this year’s alpine weather was closer to the historic norm.

While there is a lot of work ahead of us this year, this is good news for the start of the season!
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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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