One of the two Vancouver Island Marmots released Monday on Mount Washington takes a look around at its new home. Photo by Erin Haluschak.

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots were released on Mount Washington Monday as part of the annual program to increase the species in the wild.

Malcolm McAdie, project veterinarian, captive breeding co-ordinator for The Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation said currently, the wild population is about 150 to 200, while the captive population is around 60.

The captive-bred marmots – which are bred at the Toronto and Calgary zoos – are part of 18 marmots who will be joining the wild population of the critically endangered species this year.

The release Monday was the second release of the year. Earlier in June, the foundation released a solitary female in the Nanaimo Lakes region. Other releases are set to take place in Strathcona Provincial Park.

The Vancouver Island Marmot population has been recovering since the species nearly went extinct in the early 2000s.

From 2003, when fewer than 30 wild marmots remained, the population has grown significantly, but they are still at a level where the population needs to be increased, noted McAdie.

“Right now, we have these small colonies – we have a number of them, but they’re small, and they’re susceptible to predation.”

He noted climate change does play a factor in their population.

“When you have an animal that’s this rare, some people compare it to a drunk person walking on the edge of a cliff. There’s always the potential for a catastrophe. It’s more the variation of weather – dryer summers or changes in the snowpack.”

RELATED: Newborn Vancouver Island marmots have conservationists encouraged

He said within thousands of years, the marmot’s population has expanded and decreased, and like many species in extreme environments, only time will tell how they are able to cope with the changes.

Adam Taylor, executive director of the foundation credited the Calgary and Toronto zoos for investing significant research time into the species, and within the last year, the foundation wanted to help the population’s recovery with increased breeding.

“We really weren’t expecting (captive marmots) to breed until next year, but we have our first litter of pups right now. And we’re over the moon to see our first three pups – they will be released next year,” he explained.

The parents – Sally and Pepsi – are “good, established marmots,” but playing the marmot dating game is a bit of luck and a bit of strategy.

“You try every year to figure out which marmots will get together. What we figured out is marmots that sleep together, stay together. Marmots that hibernate in the same burrow when they wake up they tend to be pretty cozy together even if those two marmots couldn’t stand each other the previous year.”

Taylor said marmots – especially those with pups – are especially fun to watch in the wild.

“They’re always near mom and dad – they’re very active parents.”

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



erin.haluschak@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

North Island Midget Eagles get their feet wet against Alberni Valley Bulldogs

The North Island Midget Eagles travelled down island to face off against the Bulldogs.

Council agrees to purchase emergency generator for Civic Centre

The loan will have to be repaid within five years, with no rights of renewal.

Candidates illuminate different visions of Port Alice’s future

The candidates were asked if they believed the pulp mill could run again.

VIDEO: Terry Fox Run returns to Port Hardy for the first time since 2016

All told, Port Hardy’s Terry Fox Run raised $2,200.30 with more still coming in.

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Meet the candidates for the North Island-Powell River riding

In an effort to inform the North Island-Powell River riding constituents, we… Continue reading

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Kamloops high school evacuated after receiving threat

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Most Read