Author Archives: Adam Taylor

A new Job Posting: Marmot Keeper

To further the recovery our favorite marmot, we have additional need for marmot care at our Mount Washington Centre, and are seeking a Marmot Keeper. Interested? Read on! Know someone who would be perfect? Please share!

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: February 18th, 2019

The Marmot Recovery Foundation is seeking a qualified individual to provide seasonal animal care to captive Vancouver Island Marmots at the Tony Barrett Mount Washington Marmot Recovery Centre on Vancouver Island. We are looking for an enthusiastic, passionate and responsible person to work on a unique captive breeding and reintroduction program involving a critically endangered Canadian species.

Contract length: Approximately May 1 to September 30, 2019, with some possibility of extension through October.

Contract structure: Fixed-term employment contract, starting at $2,780/month.

Qualifications:

  • Completion of a university degree in the life sciences (or equivalent) or current enrollment in a degree program
  • Or, training as an Animal Health Technologist
  • Or, a strong background and sound knowledge in animal management and handling. Experience with captive wildlife would be considered a strong asset
  • A detail-oriented mindset and keen observation skills
  • Ability to work independently while following specific directions and protocols
  • Ability to lift 22kg, and transport this amount of weight short distances
  • Strong communication skills, a positive attitude and an even temperament
  • Physical capacity and willingness to provide support to MRF field staff working at Mount Washington. This includes observations, radio-telemetry, and live-trapping of wild marmots which is conducted in steep terrain under variable weather conditions

Main tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Daily feeding, cleaning, observation and general care of captive marmots maintained at the Mount Washington facility
  • Assistance with animal handling and veterinary procedures (including anesthesia)
  • Maintain animal records
  • Basic building maintenance and security

This work is based at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island (near Courtenay, BC). Although the position is typically five days per week, there will be a requirement to work some weekends and holidays, with occasional long days involving early mornings and late evenings. Suitable candidates will be expected to have some schedule flexibility.  

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for three references to the Project Veterinarian / Captive Breeding Co-ordinator Dr. Malcolm McAdie at: animalcare@marmots.org.  Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.

Apply to join our Field Team this summer!

We are now accepting applications for our summer field team! 

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.    

Number of positions: 1-4 full-time, short-term positions.

Contract length: May 1 – August 31, 2019, with some possibility of extension through September.
Contract structure: Fixed-term employment contract, starting at $2,780/month.
Project base: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. 

Main tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Hiking for several hours a day on steep, rugged, mountainous terrain with a 30-40lb 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.
  • Camping 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 be 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 that weather will change work plans and scheduled days off, candidates cannot be assured of conventional weekends and must be flexible to work at any time during the contract period.

Successful candidates will possess:

  • A Class 5 Drivers License (or equivalent).
  • First Aid – minimum OFA Level 1.
  • A high level of physical fitness and stamina.
  • Experience with multi-day backcountry camping trips.
  • Experience driving 4×4 and all-terrain vehicles in steep, mountainous terrain.
  • A detail-oriented mindset and the ability to remember and follow specific directions regarding data collection protocols and animal care.
  • A commitment to adhere to safety protocols and contribute to safe operating practices.
  • Strong communication skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to contribute to a fun and supportive team environment.
  • Experience working around and caring for animals would be an asset.

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for three references to the Field Coordinator, Mike Lester, at: resumes@marmots.org.                

Applications must be received by 4pm Monday, February 11. Only those applicants chosen for interviews will be contacted. We anticipate scheduling interviews in the week of February 25. Some positions may be funded by Summer Jobs Canada. Additional eligibility requirements may apply. Short-listed candidates will be invited to a non-mandatory field experience day in late February. This event will facilitate candidate demonstration of backcountry fitness and aptitude for learning specialist techniques.

January’s Marmot of the Month: Haida

We use this picture a lot. It is a beautiful photo by Oli Gardner of a mom and pup pair bonding in typical Vancouver Island Marmot style by touching noses. But the photograph takes on more meaning when you understand the story of the marmots captured in it too.

The marmot mom on the right is Haida, the first captive-bred female to wean pups successfully in the wild. On the left is one of those pups.

Haida was born at the Mountain View Conservation Centre in 2002. Two years later, she was among the very first marmots released. At the time, we did not have much experience breeding marmots, and Haida was in the just second group of marmots ever to be released. In her case, her new wild home was Haley Lake Ecological Reserve, a park reserve created specifically to protect prime marmot habitat.

We have learned a lot since those first releases: the best age, time of year for the release, and how to minimize the marmot’s stress. Looking back, there are things we would do differently now. Despite these challenges and needing to learn to survive in the wild for the first time, Haida thrived in her new home.

She produced her first litter in 2006, and one of those pups is what you are looking at here. It is just possible the pictured pup is another remarkable marmot, Muffin. Muffin still lives at Haley Lake; now 12 years old herself. Currently she is hibernating with Alan, and we are hoping that the pair produce a litter of pups in the summer. If they do, it will add another chapter to Haida’s considerable legacy. 

In 2014, when Haida was at the advanced age of 12, veterinarian Malcolm McAdie recalls Haida would still get into mischief. “She would she would sit and wait while we baited the traps with peanut butter and then get caught repeatedly,” he says.

Haida passed away a few years ago, but her contribution to the recovery of her species lives on. 

December’s Marmot of the Month: Rudy

Meet Rudy, December’s Marmot of the Month. Are we going stretch to make a holiday theme by suggesting “Rudy” is short for “Rudolph”? You bet we are!

Aside from his name, Rudy resembles Rudolph in a three important ways.

First, there are, mysteriously, no photos of Rudy. We had him in hand one time back in 2016, and we’ve seen glimpses and signs, but he has deftly evaded all our camera traps! That sounds familiar….

Second, his name breaks the rhyming scheme of all his kin. At Rudy’s home on Moriarty Mountain, all the marmots names rhyme with “Forest”. There’s Rudy’s suspected mate Chloris, not to mention Morris, Horris, Borris, and Dolores. (Why the rhyming name scheme? The Field Crew gave them these names to irritate Don, our retired Field Coordinator, who felt that marmot names shouldn’t sound too similar. You see what we’re dealing with?)

Third, Rudy is definitely showing the way for his species. He may not have a red-nose, but we strongly suspect that he and Chloris have been busy making pups at Moriarty, which is one of the most successful Vancouver Island marmot colonies. More than that, Moriarty is a particularly steep, rugged site, and Rudy excels at climbing in the cliffs, showing his pups and the other marmots how to stay safe from predators!

Right now, Rudy is hibernating. His burrow, more than 2 meters underground, is safe and dry, unaffected by yesterday’s storm. We look forward to seeing him again next spring though!

Happy holidays everyone!

This is not Rudy, but an untagged marmot mom and one of her pups earlier this year at Moriarty.

That cliff and the steep bowl below is Rudy’s home. Not an easy place to get into!

November’s Marmot of the Month: Lucky Lucy

November’s  Marmot of the Month is Lucky Lucy, who truly has lived up to her name. Lucky was born in the wild at Gemini Mountain in 2016.  For the past 2 years, she seemed to be doing great, and all indications were that soon there would be another breeding age female wild marmot.

Then, this year, Lucky’s story seemed to take a dark turn. Crew couldn’t see Lucky on their visit to Gemini, but her telemetry signal was weak and reading “slow”. At the time, we interpreted the signal to mean that she had died, though we noted that the signal was unusual. After that, nothing. We couldn’t find her signal at all.

That all changed in late August though, when on a trip to another colony nearby, the crew aimed the telemetry antenna across the valley, just to see if another angle would pick up Lucky’s signal. Against all odds, not only was her signal strong, but it was clearly “fast” – indicating she was alive and well! Since then, she’s been detected alive and well a couple more times, right where we left her on the top of Gemini Mountain.

Why did Lucky’s signal throw us for a loop? We will never know for sure, but rock walls can play havoc with telemetry signals bouncing them in odd ways. It is possible that Lucky ventured down off Gemini for a while, or perhaps she had dug a burrow under a particularly large rock.

Regardless, we feel fortunate to have her back! 

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On this Earth Day, you are likely to be reminded that wildlife globally is suffering. However, with work and dedication, it is possible to make a positive difference for even the most endangered species. If you follow us here, you are likely aware of the Vancouver Island marmot's story - from fewer than 30 wild marmots in 2003, to about 200 today.

Thank you to our donors and partners who are making the marmot's recovery possible. The marmots would not be here without you!

Enjoy this video, taken by the amazing Alena Ebeling-Schuld, of young Vancouver Island Marmots cautiously exploring the world outside their burrow.
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Possibly right now, the first marmots are beginning the long process of waking up in their hibernacula, becoming more and more restless as the snow above them begins to melt. Soon, they will begin to dig their way out through the dirt and snow, looking for food as their bodies recover from the rigors of hibernation.

For us, one of the great pleasures is seeing the first marmot of the year. Tracks, emergence holes, and telemetry provide us with much needed data, but there is still something special about the first time you lay eyes on a marmot. Will the first marmot we see in 2019 will the same marmot we spotted first last year?

Despite her name, Field Coordinator Mike Lester first spotted June late last April, on the Mount Washington Ski Hill. At 10 going on 11, June is one our older marmots. Born in the wild colony at Mount Washington, she has given birth to many pups over the years, though these days she is beginning to show her age. Her fur is a bit mangy, but we like to think it gives her extra character. June often hangs out by the “Hawk unload,” one of the ski lift drop off points on the hill. As such, while she may not realize it, June is among the most photographed and watched of all wild Vancouver Island marmots.

We are looking forward to seeing June and her extended family, but we hope we have to wait a few more weeks for the first marmots to appear above ground. The longer snow stays on the ground, the better. Melting snow provides water to the meadows throughout the summer and fall, and in turn that provides the marmots with green, nutritious vegetation to eat all season.

It is important to note that June, or whichever marmot we first observe, is probably not the first marmot out of hibernation. Most of the marmot colonies are not accessible in the early season due to avalanche hazard, and we are able access Mount Washington much earlier than nearly any other site. The first marmot observation of the season is special to us, but there are other early risers, bringing marmot whistles back to mountains for another summer. We can’t wait to see them too.
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