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Updates from the Team

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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Marmot Love is in the … Burrow?

What the Vancouver Island Marmot needs is more marmots, and for that we need to encourage marmot romance! But what are the ingredients for a successful marmot entanglement? To be honest, we do not know everything that goes into making a marmot couple, but we are aware of a few trends:

Marmot who sleep together stay together: Marmots who hibernate together often produce litters the following spring. This is why we often highlight these hopeful pairs in the fall; they are a great bet to have pups soon. It’s not a sure bet though.

The way to a marmot’s heart is through its stomach: Feeding a litter of 3 to 5 hungry baby marmots takes a lot from a mother marmot’s body. As does seven months of hibernation.  Female marmots need to be in peak physical condition if they are to have pups, so we look for marmots that have great body condition. Speaking of which…

Every marmot needs a break: The demands of babies and hibernation is too much for a marmot’s body to sustain every year. Most females take a year break between litters for their bodies to recover. We do not expect a female who had pups last year to have pups again this year.

Dad’s on the clock: Male Vancouver Island marmots often play an important role in raising their litter, including watching them while mom is out feeding – something she needs to do a lot of!

Keep it outside the family: With such a small population, inbreeding is a serious concern. Through strategic releases, we strive to make sure that marmots have unrelated, eligible partners to choose from.

Always full of surprises: Despite our best-laid plans, the marmots keep us on our toes. New marmots move into colonies, or out, when we least expect it. Marmots partners we were sure were set break up when a new mate suddenly appears. There is lots for us learn about marmot love!

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Have an old tripod?

Do you have an old or faulty tripod that deserves a second chance at usefulness? The Marmot Recovery Foundation is looking for donations of up to 18 well-loved tripods to support wildlife cameras used to monitor marmots in very remote locations. As long as the tripod can stand securely, condition does not matter.

Requirements: 3 sound legs and stable when standing. The condition of the head unit does not matter (the camera will be strapped to the tripod).

How to donate:

Drop-off Locations: We have two locations where you can drop off tripods, at our field office in the BC government building in Nanaimo, and at Habitat Acquisition Trust in Victoria.

Nanaimo: 2080A Labieux Rd, Attn: Marmot Recovery project / Sean Pendergast

Victoria: Habitat Acquisition Trust, 825 Broughton St, Victoria (on the Mezzanine level) Attn: Marmot Recovery Foundation.

If you are in another part of BC, and are looking for a drop off location, please let us know! For the rest Canada, mail is always an option! Mail tripods to our regular address at :

Marmot Recovery Foundation
PO Box 2332 Stn A
Nanaimo, BC
V9R 6X9

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Groundhog Day 2018: Meet “Van Island Violet”

Groundhog Day is fast approaching, and many of us are waiting with baited breath for the marmots’ prognostication for spring. Is the Vancouver Island Marmot as skilled and knowledgeable predictor of future weather patterns as the better-known Groundhogs out east?

Answering this question poses some challenges. Our favorite marmot weather vane is “Van Island Violet”, a resident of the slopes of Mount Washington. However, as it turns out, on February 2nd Violet will be doing what she does every year at this time: hibernating under several meters of snow and rock.

Undaunted, and after years of research by dedicated staff at the Marmot Recovery Foundation, we have reached the following, wholly remarkable conclusion: a sleeping marmot is unlikely to see its shadow. Therefore, pending confirmation on Friday, an early spring is likely in the works.

Careful analysis of historic trends confirms that Vancouver Island’s spring is indeed significantly earlier than the rest of Canada’s. To our minds, this corroborates the Vancouver Island Marmot’s prognostication skill and our interpretation of their somnolent pronouncements, though the forecasts have not always been 100% accurate.

There are four species of marmots in Canada, including the best-known weather predicting marmot, the Groundhog (Marmota monax), and the Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis). Only the Vancouver Island Marmot is considered at risk in Canada.

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Now hiring Summer Field Crew!

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: 1-5 full-time, short-term positions.
Contract length: May 1 – August 31, 2018, 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 must be available for work throughout 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 overnight hiking and 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, Cheyney Jackson, at: resumes@marmots.org.  

Applications must be received by 4pm Monday, February 12. Only those applicants chosen for interviews will be contacted. We anticipate scheduling interviews in the week of February 26. Some positions may be funded by Summer Jobs Canada. Additional eligibility requirements may apply.

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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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Marmot Recovery Foundation

This is the BEST CHRISTMAS SWEATER EVER!!!! We thought Christmas sweaters were supposed to bad though? ... See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Marmot Recovery Foundation

#HappyThanksgiving to all our American friends! While we celebrated a little earlier here in Canada, it’s always worth taking the opportunity to express our thanks to the people who are making it possible to save the marmots. This species is here today thanks to you.

Our work to save the Vancouver Island Marmot has only been possible thanks to the gifts of donors and the support of partners. Our partners include The Calgary Zoo and The Toronto Zoo, whose expertise, facilities, and research support have been critical. Landowners TimberWest Forest Corp., #IslandTimberlands, and Mount Washington Alpine Resort have provided funding, donated land, and created new parks to protect the marmot’s habitat. The Province of BC has provided operating support, office space, and field equipment like trucks to make our work possible.

Our donors’ gifts have provided the financial support to pay the bills, and hire the exceptional, dedicated crew we need to get these marmots back into their wild habitat.

Together, you are showing that Canadians and the World care about our most vulnerable species and that, with work and time, we can save them.

With all our heart, thank you.
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