A release program began as soon as captive-born recruits became available with the intent to establish sustainable breeding colonies throughout the marmots historic range.
The first release of four captive-born marmots to Green Mountain in 2003 ended in disappointment when three of the released animals were killed by a cougar. The surviving marmot was recaptured and returned to captivity.
Undaunted, the following year nine more marmots were released with much more promising results. Releases of 15 marmots in 2005, 31 in 2006, and so forth followed from the successful results of the captive-breeding program. And, as the number of released animals increased their success in the wild improved as well. More animals survived and more successful litters were born.
Helicopters are needed to fly release animals to the remote and difficult to access colonies. Nest boxes are used for the first few days to give the marmots some time to adjust to their new surroundings.
Did you ever wonder how we find the marmots?
Released animals are surgically implanted with transmitters so our marmot crew are able to collect important information about the marmot’s survival, reproduction and dispersal patterns. Without transmitters, it would be difficult to evaluate the release program and monitor the status of the marmots in the wild.
Non Lethal Predator Control Techniques
During the early releases, field staff monitored the release sites intensely (some sites were monitored 24 hrs x 7 days per week) and an wide range of non-lethal methods were used to deter predators.
Predation is a natural event. And now that the marmot population in the wild is making the gains it has, it is no longer necessary or possible to monitor the release sites this closely.