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.
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 for the endangered Vancouver Island Marmot.
Number of positions: 6 full-time, short-term positions. Contract length: May 2 – August 31, 2016, with some possibility of extension through September. Project base: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.
Main tasks and responsibilities include:
Hiking for several hours a day on steep, rugged, mountainous terrain with a 10-40lb 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.
Willingness to camp 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 start 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 of weather-based scheduling changes, candidates must be available to work each day within the contract period.
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:
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! ... See MoreSee Less
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