Recovery Efforts

Recovering a Wild Population
The mission of the Marmot Recovery Foundation is to recover the wild population of the Vancouver Island Marmot. Significant progress has been made, but much work remains before this species will be secure in the wild.

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.

Our Work
Release Marmots
Each year, the Foundation supports growing colonies by releasing marmots born at the Calgary Zoo, the Toronto Zoo, and at our Tony Barrett Mount Washington Recovery Centre to the wild. Captive breeding and release has been the cornerstone of recovery efforts for this species.
Rescue Marmots
When marmots get lost or are in danger, we rescue them. Later, these marmots are released to safer locations, where they can continue the work of recovering their species. With a population counted in the low hundreds, every marmot counts.
Monitor the Population
By monitoring the wild population, we can more effective when helping. Releasing the right marmot to the right spot at the right time can make all the difference.
It takes a lot of energy to raise a litter of active pups, then head straight to hibernation. We can help by providing high quality food. It helps mom be healthier - and have pups more often!
Habitat Restoration
While most Vancouver Island Marmot habitat is in good condition, climate change has impacted some colonies, particularly those at lower elevations. Active restoration efforts conserve the habitat features marmots need to thrive in the harsh sub-alpine environment.
Reporting on our work to our partners, donors, and other stakeholders is a core activity. Through reporting, we measure the impact of our work, create an ongoing record of the marmot population, inform our partners about our plans, and make recommendations for future work.