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Updates from the Team

New pups in Strathcona

What a relief for us after the hard winter in Strathcona Park! While Mike and Joey were releasing marmots, they spotted an unknown female with 2 wild born pups! The female has ear tags, but we can’t read them! But that’s alright, because all that really matters is the two wild-born pups playing on the rocks below her.  Many thanks to Joey Chrisholm, who was able to catch a picture of the mom with one the pups!

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First pups of the year spotted

UPDATE: Jordan sent these photos in of the pups! Original story below.

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And one more …

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Just in time for Canada Day, Jordan, a member of the Field Crew, spotted the first new-born pups of the year! The Crew hadn’t been able to locate Mystic this spring until Jordan spotted her with her 5 pups on June 28th.

Mystic has been all-star for the recovery of her species. Last year she had 6 pups, and now 5 again this year. For comparison, most Vancouver Island Marmots have 3 or 4 pups every other year.

Jordan took photos, and we’ll be sure to post them once she’s back from the Mountains. In meantime we’ll keep our fingers crossed that more pups are spotted as they start to emerge from their burrows in the summer!

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Wild born marmots get names

While we and the media have been focused on the sad news from the Strathcona area recently, we also have good news to share. The field crew has been busy with yearlings on Mt Washington. These wild marmots were born last year, and there is a healthy crop of them at Mt Washington!

We give them each a name selected from our “Name-a-Pup” contest. Here are the names handed out so far this year:
– Kirby, male
– Mildred, female
– Rex, male
– Tracker, male
– Shiloh, female
– Roy, male
– Willellen, female
– Daisy, female

You can enter the “Name-a-Pup” contest by adopting a marmot. Your gifts from the Adopt-a-Marmot program enable us to do the recovery work the marmots need. Thank you!

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Poor overwinter survival in Strathcona troubling

Sadly, this winter many marmots in the Strathcona region did not survive to the spring. We have lost 36 marmots, a significant percent of the population in the Strathcona region. As well, there are a number of marmots we have not been able to locate yet, and we do not know their fate.
 
We also do not yet know why there was such poor survival this winter in this one region, but we are working hard to find out. One possibility is that the summer drought last year reduced the fall foliage that marmots rely on before going into hibernation. Hopefully we will learn more in the weeks ahead.
 
While we are deeply saddened by this discovery, there is good news as well. In the Nanaimo Lakes region and at Mt Washington, marmots did quite well overwinter, which is a great relief.
 
Plus, due to monitoring efforts, we know about this decline. That gives us the opportunity to learn and respond.
 
Finally, while troubling, these deaths will not push the Vancouver Island Marmot to the brink of extinction. They are a stark reminder of work still ahead of us, and how fragile the marmots’ place in the wild remains, but it also reminds us of how far we have come over the past 13 years. 
 
Now we go work to learn what we can, and continue towards our goal of a secure place in the wild for our marmots. Despite this setback, the only reason that marmots have not become extinct is because of our generous donors.  Thank you so much for caring for this beautiful creature.  Your gifts help everyday as we rebuild the populations
Adam Taylor, Executive Director

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Marmot on “Marmot-y” Peak

Marmot in “Marmot-y area”
 
Over the last few years, crew members have often looked at a nameless mountain bowl between two known marmot colonies and thought it would be a great spot marmots. But until today, we’d never seen any there. 
 
Andrew and Marina were hiking between the colonies when they spotted a marmot in what Marina has dubbed “Mercedes Mountain” (the peak looks like the Mercedes logo when viewed from Google Earth).
 
Our mystery marmot has ear tags, so perhaps we’ll be able to figure who it is that has finally moved into this spot. Hopefully it’s as good a home as we think it is!
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Photo by Andrew Horsfield

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The Field Team is out at Mount Arrowsmith today. We were scheduled to head out yesterday, but had to delay as result of smoke. The air is somewhat clearer today, but still very hazy. Fortunately, there are no fires near any marmot colonies, but we are constantly reminded of the people and wildlife that are not as fortunate.

On happier note, the Team has located 4 adult marmots and 6 pups in 2 locations on Mount Arrowsmith just this afternoon - great news for us from this colony.

Field Coordinator Mike Lester shares this photo of our field setup this afternoon.
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Here's a fantastic portrait of a pup by John Deal. John is a member of the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Team, a group of biologists from government, the private sector, NGOs, and academia that provide guidance and advice on our work to ensure there are more pups like this in the future! ... See MoreSee Less

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