Jul 1, 2009 | Marmot, Summer 2009

60 – 70 Marmots to be Released this Summer on Vancouver Island

A remarkable year is planned for the extremely rare Vancouver Island Marmot.

Did you know the largest natural and continuously occupied colony of Vancouver Island marmots live right here on Mt Washington?

And did you know the Marmot Recovery Foundation expects to release 60-70 of the rare marmots to natural VIM habitat on the Island this summer?

?Thanks to the success of our captive breeding program we?re facing a very busy release schedule?, said executive director Viki Jackson. ?Our captive breeding partners at the Calgary and Toronto zoos, Mountain View Conservation & Breeding Centre and our own Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre are all achieving excellent results, which means we?re now able to release marmots in numbers that will really make a difference to the wild population.?

The Recovery Strategy goal is to establish three sustainable meta-populations on Vancouver Island with a total population of approximately 600 marmots.

?This is the Foundation?s 11th year of operation and we?re finally measuring the results of our labour with real progress in the wild.?

The first 2nd generation pups from released captive born marmots were born at Haley Lake last spring (SW of Nanaimo) and this spring we?re expecting pups to be born in Strathcona Park. That will be the first time pups have been born in the park since they were extirpated there more than a decade ago,? said Viki.

It has taken several years for the captive breeding program to mature and grow to the stage it can now produce release animals in the numbers needed to affect real and positive change in the wild population.

?The wild population has grown from a low of less than 30 known marmots to an estimated 140-160 marmots and they can now be found on 22 mountains (up from only 4 in 2003). With a little luck, adequate funding and determination we hope to increase that number to 200-250 by the end of the year. That?s still a tiny population by any measurement but it?s heading in the right direction towards the Recovery Strategy goal of 600 marmots in the wild,? Viki said.

The Marmot Recovery Foundation is a unique coalition of stakeholders whose primary partners include TimberWest, Island Timberlands, the public through the Marmot Recovery Foundation and the provincial government.

?We have a lot of work cut out for us this year as we attempt to release record numbers of marmots to the wild. It?s kind of like sprinting across the finish line of a marathon,? she said. ?We need as much help as we can muster for this final phase to ensure all the hard work and investment of the last 10 years pays off with a restored Vancouver Island marmot population for the world to enjoy along with the many other natural wonders of the Island we?re so proud of.?

?The marmots have done their part, we must make sure we do ours,? Viki said.

For more information or to make a donation to help save the Vancouver Island marmot go to www.marmots.org

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