Jul 1, 2013 | Marmot, Summer 2013

Mosaic’s Grand Adventure

Hello. My name is MOSAIC. I think you might have heard of my family before because, between you and me, we’re almost as famous as the Kardashians.

And while you won’t find ME at any of the popular urban spas, you will find me at Mount Washington – one of our oldest colonies. All because of a national Recovery Strategy to save my species from near extinction and restore us to our natural habitat. That’s important because we’re not only uniquely Canadian we’re also one of the most endangered mammals in the world.

Leading me to my story. I was born off-island, as part of a captive breeding program, on May 4, 2010. The following year I was moved to the Tony Barrett Mount Washington Marmot Recovery Centre for quarantine and to make sure I was in tip- top shape before I was released to the wild colony there.

The plan was I would overwinter at the colony with my siblings Stella, Horizon, Starbuck and Bertie (as well as other captive-born yearlings), where we would be supplementally fed and monitored to help us survive our first winter hibernation in the wild. This “pre-conditioning” period is a new release strategy to see if our survival can be improved when we’re relocated to our historical colony sites next door, in Strathcona Park.

But freedom is intoxicating and I had other plans. Sometime later that fall or thereafter, I decided to head for parts unknown. The sun on my face, the wind in my hair, I dispersed. But unlike Erik, who was the first documented marmot to disperse from Mt Washington and actually locate a potential mate at Sunshine Lake in Strathcona Park after a measly 8 km trek, I headed due east.

And that’s the last anyone heard of me… until this spring when the marmot crew received an intriguing phone call. It seems two very nice people in a small town called Merville (near Black Creek) called to report they were pretty sure they’d spotted a Vancouver Island marmot under their deck. So the crew went to investigate.

Merville is 10-15 kms east of Mount Washington as the crow flies, and the crew had been unable to locate my transmitter signal for two years, so no one knows how far I trekked. You can imagine their surprise when they read my tag number and found out who I am. I tell you, it was the royal treatment the whole way – after he caught me of course because, as I said, freedom is intoxicating.

So after I lured Chris (who’s not exactly a small guy) into the crawl space under the house with me, we were able to negotiate amicable terms and I happily surrendered my freedom. You know why?

After another short stay at the Marmot Recovery Centre, Chris promised he’d hook me up with a cute five year-old captive-born female he knows of named MIA. She’s been waiting for the right male to show up and survive long enough to set up house with her since her release at Castle Crag in Strathcona Park in 2010. Sounds like my kind of gal. And I think I’m just the right guy.

If you would like to help make sure Mosaic, Mia and the other Vancouver Island marmots get the help they need to become reestablished in their natural habitat on Vancouver Island, please visit the marmot website and make a donation today at www.marmots.org or use the mail-in coupon provided in the paper version of The Marmot.

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