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Updates from the Team

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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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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