Author Archives: Adam Taylor

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.

Safety Training

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.

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Marmot Love is in the … Burrow?

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!
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