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Updates from the Team

Comox Valley Visitor’s Centre Features Rarest Marmot In The World!


If you’ve never seen a Vancouver Island marmot here’s your chance.

Just opened, this state of the art Visitor’s Centre will feature interactive alpine, ocean, agricultural and forest related displays including a life-sized marmot burrow

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Recovery Centre Damaged By Extreme Snowload

Damage caused to roof of Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre from extreme 2010 snow conditions.

An unusual and extreme snow fall (winter and spring of 2010/2011) caused major damage to the roof of the Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre. The extent of the damage was not cully revealed until the late spring thaw in June.

Fortunately the marmots weren’t disrupted and the structure was safe, so we were able to continue with the summer releases. When the last marmot to be released was out the door, it left us with a very short window of opportunity to replace the roof and finish in time to beat the first snowfall and be ready to receive the marmots scheduled for release in 2012 from our partner breeding facilities.

An enormous gratitude is owed to Chris Erb of SubErb Construction and Greg McCarley of Westwood Metals for doing a remarkable job under such strict timelines. Thank you both for making the welfare of the marmots your highest priority while you carrying out the repairs.

Chris is not a stranger to the marmots or the Recovery Centre. He was in fact the original contractor who built the Recovery Centre in 2000/2001. Thank you Chris! The marmots are forever in your debt.

 

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Captive Breeding Program Wins Prestigious CAZA Award!

Our partners at the Calgary and Toronto zoos have won the prestigious North American Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in recognition of their exceptional species recovery efforts by participating in the Vancouver Island marmot captive breeding program.

Along with Mountain View Conservation Centre, a private facility in Langley BC, and our own Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre, the zoos have played a huge roll in the success of the captive breeding program and gains in the wild.

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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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