The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)

The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)

Despite challenges, 2020 good year for Vancouver Island marmot population

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46

As they approach hibernation, a once nearly-extinct species native to Vancouver Island is about to settle down for what was a relatively good year.

The Vancouver Island Marmot population has been recovering since the species nearly went extinct in the early 2000s, but thanks to The Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation, their population has risen, particularly with 106 pups born within the past two years, said Adam Taylor, the foundation’s executive director.

“It’s been a pretty good year. We were expecting an increase in the number of pups produced but we’ve had a really strong past two years.”

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46.

VIMRF works with the Toronto and Calgary zoos for their captive-breeding programs in addition to their facility on Mount Washington. Taylor explained they really want to reinvigorate the program to see the population begin a more rapid recovery.

This year, they released 14 marmots into the wild from the program and three were translocated to enhance other colonies.

RELATED: Vancouver Island marmot populations gets boost with help from Calgary Zoo

“We’ve got a fair amount of capacity to release them. Within a few hours, the young marmots start interacting with the freshly-released ones.”

Following releases this summer and monitoring pups, Taylor said the team will spend the winter reviewing camera footage and acoustic recordings. For certain colonies that are only accessible by helicopter, the footage gives researchers a deeper knowledge of the marmots in those colonies.

With the acoustic recordings, the team monitors the marmot’s individual sounds – similar to voices, Taylor explained. The information is then used to create a report to develop and identify sites for future releases.

Another good sign for the species’ recovery is their resilience; between a wildfire near one colony in the Nanaimo Lakes region, a wet summer and heavy smoke from U.S. wildfires in the area, Taylor said he was happy how little the marmots were fazed.

“The speed at which they can adapt is amazing. We’re feeling really happy with what was a strange, strange summer – it was definitely one for the record books.”

Taylor credited their donors for truly saving the species.

“They literally would be extinct without support from people in B.C. and across Canada. If you take a look at the Vancouver Island wolverine, they are probably extinct now. Support worked for this species, and they were saved; what a difference that makes.”

For more information about the Vancouver Island Marmot and the foundation, visit marmots.org.



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP pulled over a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 23 after noting that it didn’t appear safe for the road. (West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP pull over vehicle held together by tape and cargo strap

RCMP deemed the vehicle unsafe for the road and had it towed away

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunting allowed in area, some seeking to change that after ‘act of sickening, malicious destruction’

Over 6,000 customers were affected by the power outage that started on Nov. 17. (BC Hydro photo)
BC Hydro crews worked 16 hour days to turn the North Island’s power back on

BC Hydro runs one transmission line to Northern Vancouver Island so there was no backup line.

Gordon Viberg was the fifth person to be diagnosed with COVID-19 at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Provided by the Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Islander awakens from the ordeal of COVID-19

Gordon Viberg, Royal Jubilee’s ‘patient 5’ recalls being so weak he couldn’t get out of bed

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Bystanders attend to a cyclist who is knocked to the pavement of Oak Bay Avenue. Witnesses say the cyclist was knocked off their bike in a dooring incident on Oak Bay Avenue at Fell Street at around 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 
(Daniel Opden Dries Photo)
VicPD tickets driver for ‘dooring’ cyclist on Oak Bay Avenue

Incident occurred at Oak Bay Avenue and Fell Street

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

A Nanaimo driver was sentenced Monday for fatally striking a high school student with his vehicle in 2019. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo driver sentenced after motor vehicle incident that killed teen last year

Brandon Geoffrey Murdoch fined and prohibited from driving for two years

Two of the weapons seized in a Nov. 8 traffic stop in Black Creek. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP seize guns, drugs in Black Creek traffic stop

Two arrested in connection with incident

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property in Nanaimo’s Extension area

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14

Kwalikum Secondary School. (SD69 photo)
Schools superintendent says protocols don’t change after COVID-19 exposure at Qualicum Beach high school

Elder: ‘We were assured by the Health Authority that the school is safe’

Most Read