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Updates from the Team

Kirby: 2016 Name-a-Pup Contest Winners

Each year, those who Adopt-a-Marmot have the opportunity to submit a name for our Name-a-pup contest.  Winning names are drawn in the winter, and then when we identify new pups during the following summer, they are one of the winning names.

You’ll get an opportunity this fall to submit your name, but before then we thought we’d update you on pups getting named this summer.  There’s no particular order here, and not all pups have a picture – some are just too shy for the camera.

Let’s start with Kirby. Here Kirby is licking peanut butter off his mom’s face – I’m sure he’s just trying to helpful!

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Photo by Joey Chrishom.

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New pups in Strathcona

What a relief for us after the hard winter in Strathcona Park! While Mike and Joey were releasing marmots, they spotted an unknown female with 2 wild born pups! The female has ear tags, but we can’t read them! But that’s alright, because all that really matters is the two wild-born pups playing on the rocks below her.  Many thanks to Joey Chrisholm, who was able to catch a picture of the mom with one the pups!

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First pups of the year spotted

UPDATE: Jordan sent these photos in of the pups! Original story below.

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And one more …

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Just in time for Canada Day, Jordan, a member of the Field Crew, spotted the first new-born pups of the year! The Crew hadn’t been able to locate Mystic this spring until Jordan spotted her with her 5 pups on June 28th.

Mystic has been all-star for the recovery of her species. Last year she had 6 pups, and now 5 again this year. For comparison, most Vancouver Island Marmots have 3 or 4 pups every other year.

Jordan took photos, and we’ll be sure to post them once she’s back from the Mountains. In meantime we’ll keep our fingers crossed that more pups are spotted as they start to emerge from their burrows in the summer!

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Wild born marmots get names

While we and the media have been focused on the sad news from the Strathcona area recently, we also have good news to share. The field crew has been busy with yearlings on Mt Washington. These wild marmots were born last year, and there is a healthy crop of them at Mt Washington!

We give them each a name selected from our “Name-a-Pup” contest. Here are the names handed out so far this year:
– Kirby, male
– Mildred, female
– Rex, male
– Tracker, male
– Shiloh, female
– Roy, male
– Willellen, female
– Daisy, female

You can enter the “Name-a-Pup” contest by adopting a marmot. Your gifts from the Adopt-a-Marmot program enable us to do the recovery work the marmots need. Thank you!

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Poor overwinter survival in Strathcona troubling

Sadly, this winter many marmots in the Strathcona region did not survive to the spring. We have lost 36 marmots, a significant percent of the population in the Strathcona region. As well, there are a number of marmots we have not been able to locate yet, and we do not know their fate.
 
We also do not yet know why there was such poor survival this winter in this one region, but we are working hard to find out. One possibility is that the summer drought last year reduced the fall foliage that marmots rely on before going into hibernation. Hopefully we will learn more in the weeks ahead.
 
While we are deeply saddened by this discovery, there is good news as well. In the Nanaimo Lakes region and at Mt Washington, marmots did quite well overwinter, which is a great relief.
 
Plus, due to monitoring efforts, we know about this decline. That gives us the opportunity to learn and respond.
 
Finally, while troubling, these deaths will not push the Vancouver Island Marmot to the brink of extinction. They are a stark reminder of work still ahead of us, and how fragile the marmots’ place in the wild remains, but it also reminds us of how far we have come over the past 13 years. 
 
Now we go work to learn what we can, and continue towards our goal of a secure place in the wild for our marmots. Despite this setback, the only reason that marmots have not become extinct is because of our generous donors.  Thank you so much for caring for this beautiful creature.  Your gifts help everyday as we rebuild the populations
Adam Taylor, Executive Director

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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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