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Updates from the Team

Winter Tasks – Building Feeders

One of our winter tasks is building new feeders for spring. The goal of these feeders is help improve the body condition of wild marmots early in the year. The better their body condition is, the more likely it is they will breed – and wild pups are our goal!

We build these feeders to keep the food dry and they are designed to survive the harsh alpine spring weather. The marmots seem to enjoy the feeders almost as much as the food, and they often sit on them to get out of the deep snow!

Our food supplement is “primate biscuits”. These biscuits are designed for animals that eat leafy foliage, and they are a good nutrient match for our marmots.

Harry seemed to enjoy his!

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Remember the year that was, and thinking of years to come

As the end of the year approaches and I think back on the year that was, I recalled this lovely note that the Foundation received from Tom and Margaret. Their message wonderfully captures one of the great hopes I have for our work: that future generations will have the chance to experience seeing the marmot, and other endangered wildlife, in the wild.

Many thanks to Tom and Margaret for sharing this with us, and to everyone who has shared their stories with us. We love your messages and encouragement!

Adam Taylor, Executive Director

Hi Everyone –

On Father’s Day, June 19th our son-in-law, Brad, took the children up Mt. Washington to ride on the ski lift. On the way up they spotted a lone marmot on the right-and side of the lift. On the way down, about 15-20 minutes later, it was still sitting in the same spot. This time Brad had his camera out and took the enclosed pictures. (Between 5-5:30pm)

Even though we have supporters of your great recovery program for a number of years we have never had the fortune of seeing one of these beautiful creatures in the wild. I’m so glad my grandchildren have had the opportunity.

Please know we admire and appreciate all the good work you are doing to save our Vancouver Island marmots. Best wishes always.

Most Sincerely,

Tom and Margaret”

(Please note this scan was altered to remove personal information)

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Restoration work on Mt Moriarty

It’s November (just in case you’re not near a calendar). That means all the marmots should be in bed, and we should be busy writing field season reports. Things aren’t going to plan. 

Continuous, heavy rain delayed planned restoration work for over a month, but just as we were giving up hope, a brief break in the weather enabled us to get a crew into Mt Moriarty to restore a key feature of marmot habitat – sight lines.

When marmots see a predator near their meadow, they will sit up, often on a high rock near a quick escape into a safe burrow. If the predator gets too close, the marmots whistle to alert the rest of the colony, and if the predator continues to approach, the marmot will whistle again and then dive for its escape route. It is not a foolproof system, but it generally works reasonable well as long as conditions are right.

One of those conditions is maintaining sight lines. If the marmots cannot see the predators because of trees or branches, then the warning system falls apart. In the past, this cover was cleared from marmot meadows by avalanches, but a number of years of below average snow falls have allowed significant cover to grow in a number of meadows in the more southern marmot colonies.
Our first priority was Mt Moriarty in the Nanaimo Lakes region. Our restoration goal at Mt Moriarty was to remove this stalking cover by hand, restore the marmots’ sight lines, and minimize disruption to the marmots. In October, Crew Leader Mike Lester prepared the site with staff from BC Wildfire Service and Island Timberlands by flagging all marmot hibernacula – no work would be conducted too close to a burrow – and making safety plans for the site by marking and clearing debris from access trails, flagging hazards, and planning how to manage woody debris to eliminate any increased risk of wildfire with the BC Wildlife Service. After that, all we needed was a small patch of dryish weather and the work could get done.

We waited. And waited. And started making contingency plans. And finally, after a record-setting month of rain, we spotted a clearing in the weather. Mike and volunteers Sean, Jerry, and Alicia headed up to do the work. It can be hard to see in the photos, but they put in an incredible day and got about 95% of problematic cover removed! Hopefully, the marmots that hibernate in the meadow were blissfully unaware of anything unusual happening, and will awake in the spring to an improved view.

The Foundation is extremely grateful to Sean, Jerry, and Alicia, all whom work for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, for volunteering for a hard job and doing amazing work. Also to Island Timberlands and the BC Wildfire Service for coming out with Mike to prepare the site and assisting with safety and fire plans. Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program also matched donations and volunteer time for this work, which made this project possible. Thank you all!

We hope the marmots don’t notice a thing – except for predators of course!



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The Marmoteer – Online!

Followers of our work to recover the Vancouver Island Marmot have been receiving our annual newsletter the Marmoteer by mail. Now we’re happy to offer it as a online pdf file as well! This winter we’ll be working on an email distribution option – stay tuned! In this issue, find out more about our work to help the Strathcona population of marmots and meet our new Executive Director, Adam Taylor!


 Download the 2016 Marmoteer!

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Marmots heading to Hibernation: End of season check-ups underway

It’s the end of September and many of the marmots are headed to hibernation (as our social media accounts!). Mike Lester and Wildlife Veterinarian Malcolm McAdie are doing final checkins on the marmots.  At Castlecrag they found nice weather and active marmots, but it was clear that they were getting ready for a long winter’s nap. As the end of season approaches, the marmots stay very close to their burrow.

One of our marmots, Kirby was detected in a burrow on Castlecrag; a bit of a surprise since we released him on a different mountain! Admittedly, Kirby’s release site was reasonably close to Castlecrag, and it is great to see the marmots move around between these close colonies. Kirby is sharing Castlecrag with Johann, Shiraz, Daisy2, Howard, plus Mia and her pups, as well as an unknown male we suspect is there. A great marmot community!

Meanwhile on “P” Mountain, P Gal and Canoe are down already! We located their plugged burrow last week.  The weather at “P” Mountain is cooler, but it was earlier than we expected.  The Marmot plug their burrow with rocks to keep safe from snow or predators, and it looks like P Gal and Canoe are nicely tucked in for winter!

Here’s a close up of the marmot burrow, with a GPS for scale.  Still not a lot to look at! But it will protect the marmots against winter weather and predators for 7 months.


Thanks to Mike Lester for these photos!


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4 days ago

Marmot Recovery Foundation

Our condolences to all the conservationists working to save White Rhinos. While hope remains for the Northern White Rhinos, using techniques like in vitro fertilization, this will be a difficult day.It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018 (yesterday). Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him.

Sudan will be remembered for his unusually memorable life. In the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to Dvůr Králové Zoo. Throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females. Additionally, his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies. During his final years, Sudan came back to Africa and stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength.

“We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity. One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO.

Unfortunately, Sudan’s death leaves just two female northern white rhinos on the planet; his daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, who remain at Ol Pejeta. The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.

#SudanForever #TheLoneBachelorGone #RememberingSudan #Only2Left

photo: Andrew Harrison Brown
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1 week ago

Marmot Recovery Foundation

Tonight! Malcolm McAdie has been working with Vancouver Island Marmots for 20 years, as well on projects with Alaska Marmots, Harlequin Ducks, and Marten. If you are in Victoria, this is a a great chance to meet Malcolm and learn about our work!Want to know about the status of the Vancouver Island marmot? Wildlife vet Malcolm McAdie will tell us about his work with Marmot Recovery Fdn at #UVicENVI seminar TODAY at 11:30am, DTB B255
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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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