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Updates from the Team

Farewell to our 2016 Field Crew

As the summer comes to a close, it’s time to say farewell to many of our field crew, most of whom are returning to school. We’ll continue to post some of their photos and stories on here, and celebrate the tremendous amount of work they’ve put in this summer to care for the Vancouver Island Marmot and its habitat.

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From left to right: Mike Lester, Noberto Pancera, Joey Chrisholm, Andrew Horsfield, Marina Gray, Jordan Cormack, and Cheyney Jackson. Not pictured are Malcolm McAdie (Wildlife Veterinarian), Alana Buchanan (Marmot Keeper), Kim Metz (Office Coordinator) and Adam Taylor (Executive Director)

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Willellen and Rex

Your gifts to the Foundation have made it possible for us to put the Vancouver Island Marmot back on a path towards recovery and away from extinction.  One way we say “thank you” is by giving our donors a chance to name-a-pup in the fall.

Hollis is an new marmot mom at Mt Washington, and her children from last year are growing up fast, and are now playing an important role in rebuilding the Strathcona population. Willellen was the only female of Hollis’ 2015 litter. She loves to box with her brothers. Rex is very close to his sister Willellen and they were often found in the same burrow or boxing. Both were born on Mount Washington, but were moved into Strathcona Provincial Park.

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Willellen and Rex’s mom Hollis at Mt Washington in May 2016.

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Meet Fleming

Here’s another newly named marmot from our 2015 name-a-pup contest: Fleming!

To be fair, Fleming isn’t a pup, but rather a year-old, but very shy marmot we missed last year. In fact, we weren’t looking for pups at all, but trying to get an update on Shiloh when we discovered Fleming. We believe Fleming is Shiloh’s brother – a great and happy surprise!

Unfortunately, Fleming is still too shy for the camera, so we don’t have any photos of him. Maybe next year!

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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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Marmot Love is in the … Burrow?

What the Vancouver Island Marmot needs is more marmots, and for that we need to encourage marmot romance! But what are the ingredients for a successful marmot entanglement? To be honest, we do not know everything that goes into making a marmot couple, but we are aware of a few trends:

Marmot who sleep together stay together: Marmots who hibernate together often produce litters the following spring. This is why we often highlight these hopeful pairs in the fall; they are a great bet to have pups soon. It’s not a sure bet though.

The way to a marmot’s heart is through its stomach: Feeding a litter of 3 to 5 hungry baby marmots takes a lot from a mother marmot’s body. As does seven months of hibernation. Female marmots need to be in peak physical condition if they are to have pups, so we look for marmots that have great body condition. Speaking of which…

Every marmot needs a break: The demands of babies and hibernation is too much for a marmot’s body to sustain every year. Most females take a year break between litters for their bodies to recover. We do not expect a female who had pups last year to have pups again this year.

Dad’s on the clock: Male Vancouver Island marmots often play an important role in raising their litter, including watching them while mom is out feeding – something she needs to do a lot of!

Keep it outside the family: With such a small population, inbreeding is a serious concern. Through strategic releases, we strive to make sure that marmots have unrelated, eligible partners to choose from.

Always full of surprises: Despite our best-laid plans, the marmots keep us on our toes. New marmots move into colonies, or out, when we least expect it. Marmots partners we were sure were set break up when a new mate suddenly appears. There is lots for us learn about marmot love!
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