Most Vancouver Island Marmots have emerged from hibernation to still snowy mountain tops just beginning to green up. For the marmots, this is perfect. For those of us tasked with monitoring them, the snow is both a blessing and curse. While avalanche hazards and treacherous conditions are making it difficult to access some colonies, seeing fresh tracks on the snow is thrilling sight.
As for the marmots themselves, their bodies reinvigorating after 7 months of hibernation. That means their metabolism is speeding up, and their digestive system is slowly learning how to process food again. At the same time, we hope the marmots are busy mating (though we do not see this activity in the wild). In another month, female marmots will be giving birth, and we would love nothing more than to see another bumper crop of pups this summer.
Here, Ernest shares a moment with a special friend. The “nose boop” behaviour is associated with marmot family members and mating pairs. We certainly hope that is the case here. Photo by Eden Rowe.
The Foundation has also placed feeders near the hibernation sites of female marmots. We believe that having easy access to highly nutritious food will help breeding females’ body condition, making it easier for them to give birth and care for pups. Arwen seems to be enjoying her biscuits! Photo by Eden Rowe.
Back in mid-April, this the moment Field Coordinator Cheyney Jackson detected the first marmot of the year on “fast.” The speed of that faint beeping you hear tells us the body temperature of the marmot. In this case, Cheyney could tell that Edgar was awake from hibernation, even though he had not dug out of his burrow yet! Video by Adam Taylor.