On July 5th and 6th, 2022 we released 10 captive-bred marmots to the wild colony at Mount Washington. Over the next two weeks, we will continue to release more marmots to more remote mountains.
It is a huge transition for these young marmots to go from life in the captive breeding program to life in the wild. Amazingly, the marmots adapt quickly to their new surroundings, and we often see them browsing on wild vegetation within a couple hours of their release.
Vancouver Island Marmots are released at one-year-old. This is because wild adult marmots are more tolerant of young marmots, and are more likely to accept them into the colony. While we were not able to catch it on camera, these four marmots were visited by the adult pair at the site within hour of their release. We’ve monitored the site for the past two days, and fortunately so far everyone is getting along!
The captive breeding program at the Toronto Zoo, Calgary Zoo, and at the Tony Barrett Mount Washington continues to be a central part of recovery efforts for this species. When the first captive bred marmots were released, fewer than 30 Vancouver Island marmot remained in the wild.
While the captive breeding program has helped us increase the population to over 250 marmots, we are continuously learning how give marmots the best chance possible once they live in the wild. Time of year, age at release, hibernation cycles in captivity, what food they have been fed, and who is waiting to meet them at their wild home – all these factors can influence how the marmot’s chances of surviving.
As always, we grateful to our partners and supporters who are making it possible to save this species. You really are saving this species from extinction, and proving that the marmot has a place in the wild.