Author Archives: Adam Taylor

First Release of 2018

Today we released the first 3 marmots of the season. Stuart, Flores, and Sidney joined the colony at Mount Washington Alpine Resort with seeming enthusiasm.

Born in captivity at the The Calgary Zoo, this the first time these marmots have experienced the wild, and the speed with which they made that transition was impressive. Within moments the marmots were exploring the world around their new home, and sampling the local vegetation.

There are still more marmots from the The Toronto Zoo to be released, but it is great to see the first ones out adapting so quickly after their release!


Field Crew Norberto and Jordan help veterinarian Malcolm get the marmots into their new home. Its a new and frightening experience for the marmots, and they don’t always want to go. Malcolm and Norberto position the trap and encourage the marmot to go into the nest box by tickling its feet.

The marmots today were poking their heads out immediately. These are two of Flores, Sidney, and Stuart.

Within a couple minutes, the first marmot is out! This is quick, often the marmots will spend 5 to 15 minutes in the familiar nest box before emerging.

Looks like this marmot has already picked out her/his favorite lookout rock.

Time to explore, and coax the others out of the nestbox! As tempting as it is to stay, we need to let them be for bit. They are in the middle of the Mount Washington colony, and should be safe to explore their new environment.

Happy Birthday Vancouver Island Marmots!

Today we are celebrating the birthdays of all our Vancouver Island Marmots! Now you might ask, how is it that all marmots are born on June 1st, and how do we know?

Peeking behind the curtain reveals that of course not all marmots are actually born on the same day, and we don’t know exactly when they are born. Marmot pups are born in the hibernaculum, and they stay in the warm dark den for about 30 days. We won’t actually see any pups until early July, when they first start to explore the world beyond the burrow.
We do know that the pups are born around June 1st, and it’s just convenient really to roll over all the ages all on the same day.

So here’s to a very happy birthday(-ish) to all the marmots, and our wish that lots of pups are recently born, being born, or about to be born on the mountains!

A Star Wars Update for May the 4th Day!

A small update on some of our “Star Wars” marmots: It turns out that, Jabba and Amidala hibernated together! We detected them alive yesterday in the same hibernaculum. Hopefully they’ll be out the burrow soon – and maybe some pups will follow them later in the year!

Here is “Hanna Solo” peeping out from the nest box back when we released these marmots in 2016.

Thank you Hans Helgensen!

Recently, Executive Director Adam Taylor gave a presentation to Kindergarten classes at Hans Helgensen Elementary on Vancouver Island Marmots. Adam taught them about their habitat, hibernation, and some of the challenges that Vancouver Island Marmots face.

We were absolutely delighted to receive a pair of beautiful thank you coloring books! These are a just a small sample of the wonderful drawings and facts the students shared.

Thank you for having us Hans Helgensen!

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First Marmot Signs of 2018

It’s time! The first Vancouver Island marmot emergence hole of the year was spotted today at Mt Washington by Field Coordinator Mike Lester. Mike notes that there are no tracks, but at least two of the marmots are detectable and alive! This is right on time for the marmots, and very exciting for us!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-15,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

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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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