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Updates from the Team

The 2016 Field Crew

Say hello to our 2016 Field Crew! Yesterday was the first day of training, but soon the crew will be in the mountains monitoring, feeding, tagging, and releasing marmots.

Field_Crew_2016

 

 

 

From left to right: Mike Lester, Noberto Pancera, Joey Chrisholm, Andrew Horsfield, Marina Gray, Jordan Leigh Cormack, and Cheyney Jackson.

Not in the picture are Marmot Keeper Alana Buchanan, Wildlife Veterinarian Malcolm McAddie, Office Coordinator Kim Metz, and Executive Director Adam Taylor.

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First Marmot of 2016 spotted today

Jim Vallance of West Coast Helicopters reported seeing the first Vancouver Island Marmot of 2016 at one the southern colonies today (April 14th)! More updates coming soon.

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Owlkids give Herman a checkup

Owlkids sent their interpid reporter Ireland to visit the Toronto Zoo to give Herman the Vancouver Island Marmot a checkup. This was way back in 2014, but its too cute not to share!

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Work for the Marmot Recovery Foundation this summer!

The Marmot Recovery Foundation is seeking summer wildlife technicians. We are looking for enthusiastic, hard-working individuals that have a passion for wildlife conservation, love to work outdoors, and want to contribute to the success of our exciting recovery program for the endangered Vancouver Island Marmot.

Number of positions: 6 full-time, short-term positions.
Contract length: May 2 – August 31, 2016, with some possibility of extension through September. Project base: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

Main tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Hiking for several hours a day on steep, rugged, mountainous terrain with a 10-40lb backpack.
  • Precise and consistent collection of inventory, survival, and reproduction data based on radiotelemetry detections and visual observations.
  • Accurate and timely data entry.
  • Live-trapping and care of Vancouver Island marmots under the direction of the project veterinarian.
  • Driving 4×4 trucks on active logging roads, and occasional use of ATVs and/or snowmobiles.
  • Willingness to camp on trips of up to 10 days in length (sites often accessible only by helicopter).

This project is based in central Nanaimo. Meeting times can start as early as 4am and field days can be very long. In the past, we have hired exceptional individuals that lived outside of Nanaimo; however, all candidates MUST expect to drive to Nanaimo for the start of each field day. No reimbursement for personal fuel or mileage will be offered. Due to the short length of the field season and the high likelihood of weather-based scheduling changes, candidates must be available to work each day within the contract period.

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The Force Awakens: Calgary celebrates Star Wars with Marmot Pups

“The Force Awakens”, but hopefully the Vancouver Island Marmots sleep through Christmas! Meet Luke & Leia, Han Solo (hopefully not “solo” for long – we need them Marmots breeding!), Jabba,& Yoda. These captive bred marmots are “A New Hope” for the species. At the Calgary Zoo, these Star Wars theme named pups will be part of the next generation of Vancouver Island Marmots released into the wild in 2016.

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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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