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Updates from the Team

It’s spring and we’re off to an early start!

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After a very light winter with almost no snow on many of our lower elevation colonies, the marmots were up early this spring. This was confirmed by one of our returning field crew, who was so excited for another marmot season that he couldn’t quite wait until our official start date on May 1st. According to his report, the marmots were playing, fighting, foraging, and doing all kinds of marmoty activities. It seems that humans weren’t the only animals impatient for spring to start!

Since it is May 1st, we must wish you a very happy Vancouver Island Marmot Day! To celebrate this year’s VI Marmot Day, we are thrilled to have something extra-special to share with you. While working out in the field and conducting inventory at marmot colonies, our field crew have gathered hundreds of hours of video footage of Vancouver Island marmots in the wild…and so we created a YouTube channel so that we can share some of these videos with you! We will post just a few videos at first, but check in with us over the course of the field season, and we’ll post new ones as often as we can. We hope you will enjoy watching them as much as we did.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq9BDTTw9n9_3njOL277VIw

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Comox Valley Visitor’s Centre Features Rarest Marmot In The World!


If you’ve never seen a Vancouver Island marmot here’s your chance.

Just opened, this state of the art Visitor’s Centre will feature interactive alpine, ocean, agricultural and forest related displays including a life-sized marmot burrow

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Recovery Centre Damaged By Extreme Snowload

Damage caused to roof of Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre from extreme 2010 snow conditions.

An unusual and extreme snow fall (winter and spring of 2010/2011) caused major damage to the roof of the Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre. The extent of the damage was not cully revealed until the late spring thaw in June.

Fortunately the marmots weren’t disrupted and the structure was safe, so we were able to continue with the summer releases. When the last marmot to be released was out the door, it left us with a very short window of opportunity to replace the roof and finish in time to beat the first snowfall and be ready to receive the marmots scheduled for release in 2012 from our partner breeding facilities.

An enormous gratitude is owed to Chris Erb of SubErb Construction and Greg McCarley of Westwood Metals for doing a remarkable job under such strict timelines. Thank you both for making the welfare of the marmots your highest priority while you carrying out the repairs.

Chris is not a stranger to the marmots or the Recovery Centre. He was in fact the original contractor who built the Recovery Centre in 2000/2001. Thank you Chris! The marmots are forever in your debt.

 

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Captive Breeding Program Wins Prestigious CAZA Award!

Our partners at the Calgary and Toronto zoos have won the prestigious North American Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in recognition of their exceptional species recovery efforts by participating in the Vancouver Island marmot captive breeding program.

Along with Mountain View Conservation Centre, a private facility in Langley BC, and our own Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre, the zoos have played a huge roll in the success of the captive breeding program and gains in the wild.

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Marmot Recovery Foundation

Spot the Marmot! (this one is very hard).

A bit of backstory to this photo: we received a report of a Vancouver Island Marmot on a residential property on Saturday. Field Coordinator Mike Lester went out to have a look and found this frightened guy hanging out in the woodshed. Mike was able to trap the marmot, and transport him to the Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre.

This fellow will be re-released to a colony once he has a clean bill of health.

He is easy to spot once Mike caught him, but see if you can find the marmot's fur in the first photo.
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Happy Father's Day to all our Marmot Dads! Vancouver Island Marmot fathers play an important role in rearing pups. They play guard and teach socialization skills to the energetic youngsters.

We still have another few weeks before we learn who is mom and dad this year, as the young marmots will not emerge from the burrow until early July, but we're hoping for lots of new dads out there!

Thanks to Alena E.S. Conservation & Photography for the photo.
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Field Coordinator Mike Lester spent part of his Sunday catching this Yellow-bellied Marmot that was accidentally transported to Nanaimo. This marmot is now at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre waiting for transportation back to the Interior.

Why don't we want marmot tourists on the Island? First, marmots are most likely to thrive in areas where there are others of their species. Second, we don't want to transmit diseases between marmots species that would not normally encounter each other.

Just how are these Yellow-bellied Marmots getting to the Island? We don't know for sure, but we suspect they arrive in construction materials and large hay bales that may look like good burrows. Once these items start to move, the marmot may just hunker down for the ride. Another possibility is that they crawl into the underside of cars, which Yellow-bellied Marmots are known to do. Again, they may just hunker down until the end of the trip.

Regardless of whether it is a Vancouver Island Marmot or Yellow-bellied, if you see a marmot on Vancouver Island, let us know!
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