The Vancouver Island marmot(Marmota vancouverensis) is one of the rarest mammals in the world. Thanks to recent recovery efforts, the population has increased from a low count in 2003 of less than 30 wild marmots living in a handful of colonies to just over 250 marmots on over more than 20 mountains in 2021.
The Vancouver Island Marmot is listed as Endangered under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA) and by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species (COSEWIC). It is a Priority 1 species under the BC Conservation Framework and classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.
As of the fall of 2021, there were approximately 25 colonies with marmots likely to emerge. These are spread between 2 metapopulations (clusters of colonies that marmots could travel between), and one isolated colony at Steamboat Mountain. There may be marmots in the Schoen Lake area, but there has not been a confirmed sighting in that area for over 5 years.
As of May 2022, we are just starting to see marmots emerge from hibernation. While we will not have an updated population estimate until this fall, you can keep up to date on our work and findings on our blog and social media.
Recovery efforts have made a substantial difference to the marmot population, but there continue to be large fluctuations in the population. Larger mortality events, like the one seen in 2014, and again in 2016 may be the result weather conditions, predation events, or a combination of both. Note that the population number below are of observed marmots. While the Marmot Recovery Foundation monitors the population closely, there are undoubtedly some marmots that escape detection every year.