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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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Our Marmot of the Month is Alan
The ocean is lovely, but it is not marmot habitat. So when we received a phone call in 2015 from the seaside Bamfield Marine Science Centre about a marmot at their facility, we were skeptical. It made no sense. There are no marmot colonies, no marmot habitat, and no reasons we could fathom for a marmot to be anywhere near Bamfield.
We requested evidence. To which Dr. Reynolds and his students responded by sending us a photo. Of a marmot, on the beach. It’s hard to say whether this mystery marmot was enjoying his visit to the shore, or confused about the lack of alpine flowers, but regardless, he was there, and we figured he might need some help getting back to mountains. With the help of Dr. Reynolds and his students, we were able to trap the marmot now dubbed “Alan,” and release him to the colony at Haley Lake Ecological Reserve.

At this point, you may have some questions. Where did Alan come from? We don’t know. How did survive the minimum of 50km (and probably much more) of forests, rivers, and inlets between the nearest marmot colonies and Bamfield? We don’t know that either. Does he enjoy surfing and nibbling on eelgrass? Please stop.

Why did Alan travel all that way? Well, yes, we don’t strictly speaking know that either, but we can guess at this one. At 2 years old, many marmots, particularly males, leave their birth colony to look for new potential mates. Sometimes, they get lost or pick the wrong direction. When you consider the vast mountain wilds and the relatively small and hidden marmot colonies, it is remarkable that marmots ever manage to find another colony, though many do. Our guess is that Alan however picked the wrong direction and then just kept going.

Alan has continued his adventures, though thankfully choosing to stay in marmot habitat. After a three year tour of the Nanaimo Lakes region, he returned to Haley Lake, and is currently hibernating with Muffin. Hopefully, in the summer ahead Alan will finally try out being a Dad!
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Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in the Marmot Technician and Marmot Keeper positions. We received over 350 applications for the positions, and will be reading all of them over the next couple weeks.

While we would love to hire everyone, unfortunately we only have a few positions available. Your enthusiasm for the marmots and our work warms our hearts during these cold winter months.
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