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

‘More animals could have a chance:’ Victoria Humane Society in desperate need of a home

Animal rescue currently has 163 animals in foster and volunteer homes

Central Saanich accused of not following Climate Emergency declaration with urgent action

Motion to research climate response options and costs rejected then rescheduled in tense meeting

Free-B Film Festival celebrates 20th anniversary

Head to Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to see some family favourites on the big screen

Join North Saanich invasives removal and experience three key benefits

Friends of North Saanich Parks says July 27 clear-up will be rewarding as well as green

Light up August with a lantern building workshop in Sidney

ArtSea workshops in preparation for Aug. 24 Salish Sea Lantern Festival

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read