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)

Vancouver Island marmot population gets boost with help from Calgary Zoo

Seventeen pups to spend winter at Mount Washington recovery centre before being released next spring

The Vancouver Island marmot population will get a boost thanks to assistance from the Calgary Zoo.

The marmots are listed as endangered on the Government of Canada’s species at risk public registry, but according to a press release, 17 marmot pups have been born at the Calgary Zoo’s Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre this year.

The pups are under the watch of the zoo animal care team and will be transferred to Tony Barrett Mount Washington Recovery Centre, where they will spend the winter, said the press release, and are expected to be released in spring 2021.

The Calgary Zoo is also working with partners on an experiment that introduces supplemental feeding to improve body condition and potentially boost wild reproduction, said the press release. Marmots that hibernate with good body condition have a better chance at surviving the winter and conceiving pups in the spring, the release said.

Research teams from the zoo are in their third year of research and gathering data on rocky slope environments to obtain marmot body weights to investigate whether this could be utilized in conservation efforts.

Adam Taylor, executive director of the Marmot Recovery Foundation on Vancouver Island, said work that Calgary and Toronto zoos are undertaking is crucial to marmot recovery.

“Supplemental feeding was something that we started doing six or seven years ago and we had a few goals behind it. The big one was we wanted to monitor some of these remote sites that we can’t get access to very often … one of the things that we noticed was that at the sites where they had the supplemental food, it really felt to us like they were producing more pups than we would’ve normally expected and so that’s when we got the Calgary Zoo involved,” said Taylor.

RELATED: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island

He said it’s been a collaborative effort over the past two years.

“Any tool that we can get that helps this population recover faster is just tremendous,” said Taylor. “We need to know that we’re having a positive impact. That’s really the big underlying question.”

There were an estimated 200 marmots on the Island at the end of 2019, said Taylor, with nine marmots being released on Mount Washington within the last two weeks.

According to the Government of Canada, the Vancouver Island marmot was originally designated as endangered in 1978, a status re-confirmed in 1997, 2000, 2008 and 2019.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Endangered Species

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Annual artist studio tour goes virtual on Saanich Peninsula

ArtSea converts popular event to online format with personalized artist videos

Langford boy wakes up from surgery to find stuffed puppy wearing the same cast

Hospital staff outfitted ‘Eddy’ the puppy to match the young patient

Local Flavour: Youth take the lead in Victoria’s Pollinator Leadership Team

Guest writer Thompson Hygge, summer intern with Pollinator Partnership Canada

Flyover at B.C. Leg to commemorate National Peacekeepers’ Day

August 9 marks biggest single day loss of Canadian lives from peace operations

UVic political scientist wants B.C. pulp mills to help produce masks, gowns

Claire Cutler says Canada needs to become self-sufficient when manufacturing PPE

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read