About the Marmot

Meet the Vancouver Island Marmot
The only endemic mammal species to British Columbia, the marmot lives in the mountains of Vancouver Island. Learn more about this special animal, its habitat, and challenges it faces.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Marmot

  • Why are Vancouver Island marmots endangered? +
    It is speculated that ongoing landscape changes on the Island had coinciding impacts on predator and prey populations as well as on Vancouver Island marmot populations. The boom and bust population dynamics of predators and prey may have been much more extreme over recent decades, exacerbated by the constraints of an island environment. In years with greater numbers of predators and fewer prey, this could have shifted “unnatural” pressures onto marmot populations. Vancouver Island marmots would never have been plentiful enough to support a predator population because of the scarcity of their habitat. Instead, marmots are killed opportunistically while predators hunt more plentiful species such as elk, deer or rabbit. But the impacts of an “unbalanced ” predator prey relationship may have been enough to drive this unique species to the brink of extinction.
  • Why is it important to recover and protect the Vancouver Island marmot? +
    The Vancouver Island marmot is one of the most rare and endangered animals in the world. They are even more rare than the giant panda or mountain gorilla. British Columbians overwhelmingly agree we have a responsibility to save threatened and endangered species. But if we expect other countries to protect their wildlife, we must do our part here at home. Otherwise, there is little hope for the animals of the world. Extinction would be a tragedy, not just for Canadians, but for the world. Saving our Canadian marmot from the brink of extinction will send a message to the world showing that people can work together to a common purpose that will help all species at risk. And recovery is achievable – given the will and the commitment.
  • What is the best way to help make sure the Vancouver Island marmot is safely recovered? +
    Persistent releases of captive bred or translocated wild marmots are needed to rebuild the historical population levels to the point the Vancouver Island marmot is no longer threatened by extinction. As a non-profit charitable organization, the Marmot Recovery Foundation depends on the generosity of public individuals to carry on the strenuous work of recovering this uniquely Canadian species. If the tap of support is turned off before the marmots are safely recovered in the wild, they could easily slip back towards the abyss of extinction. We can’t let that happen. It has taken thousands of caring individuals, as well as corporate and government partners, for the marmots to regain the levels they have today. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that while they may be safe as a species in captivity they are not yet recovered in the wild. It will take a few more years of support before the marmots are safely restored and ready to continue to recover on their own. I hope you will join us today to make sure that happens by adopting a marmot through the adopt a marmot program. That is the best way to help.
  • Where can Vancouver Island marmots be seen in the wild? +
    Mt Washington is the best place to see a Vancouver Island marmot in the wild. The other colonies are remote and difficult to access, requiring multiple day hikes or helicopter access. However, the Mt Washington ski resort provides easy access to the Mt Washington colony sites and lodging can be found in nearby Comox. Please contact us for details.
  • I just saw a marmot, what should I do? +
    Our field crews work very hard, but they can’t be everywhere at once, and Vancouver Island is a BIG place. It’s a fact that most marmot colonies discovered during the 1980s and 1990s were not found by biologists, but by loggers, hunters and hikers. So if you’re out and about on Vancouver Island and see a marmot, you can make a significant contribution to the project by taking careful notes of what you see and emailing us or calling us at: marmots@telus.net or 1-877-4MARMOT (1-877-462-7668) Please make sure to leave: Your name and telephone number or email (This is really important so we can contact you) The date and time of day Specific location (a dot on a photocopied 1:50,000 NTS map would be ideal) or make sure you take careful notes describing natural land markers and compass directions The number of marmots seen or heard Any other details (Did you see pups? What were the marmots doing? Did you see ear-tags? Have you seen marmots before?)
  • Can I volunteer at the Recovery Centre? +
    The Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre (and all of the partner breeding facilities) are under permanent quarantine. An important safety measure to safeguard the species from the accidental introduction of disease as we release animals from the Recovery Centre into the wild population. None of the marmot areas at the breeding centres are open to the public for this reason.
  • Can we visit the Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre? +
    Currently there are no public displays of Vancouver Island marmots. They are kept under strict quarantine to reduce the risk of introducing disease to the wild population, but as the population grows in the wild the chances of spotting one in the subalpine meadows of Vancouver Island becomes more and more likely. The Mt Washington ski hill is a good place to look for them.
  • What are the main predators of the Vancouver Island marmot? +
    The main predators of Vancouver Island marmots are wolves, cougars and golden eagles. But the marmot population has always been small and incapable of supporting a predator population. Vancouver Island marmots are killed opportunistically as predators hunt other more plentiful prey such as deer, elk and rabbit.