There are about 200 Vancouver Island marmots and they remain one of the of most endangered species in the world.
An encouraging number of marmots on Vancouver Island have survived one of the worst winter and spring seasons on record, much to the relief of the group in charge of making sure they don’t go extinct.
“This is always a stressful time for our field crew” said Marmot Recovery Foundation Executive Director Adam Taylor. “They’re out, going into the mountains and they’re watching as these marmots come out of hibernation.”
The survival numbers aren’t entirely clear but they know the rates are higher than expected and higher than last spring when many marmots perished.
The true test will be to see how many pups come out of the burrows in a few weeks.
“I think we’re really going to feel encouraged later in the season if we start to see some good reproduction and that’s what’s going to help the population grow” said Field Coordinator Cheyney Jackson. “So right now what we’re seeing is it’s really encouraging that they survived, that gives us lots of potential, but it’s the reproduction that’s really going to help the species to bounce back.”
There are about 200 Vancouver Island Marmots, usually found on Mount Washington, in Strathcona Park and the Nanaimo Lakes area.
They are one of the most endangered species in the world and were down to a perilous 30 in 2003 after decades of “changes to their landscape.”
“It’s been a lot of work but we really are seeing a lot of progress, it is slowly coming back.” added Taylor.
On the slopes of Mount Washington there is the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Centre, where marmots are bred in captivity. It’s a slow process and every spring is critical.
“They have to struggle and fight against being predated on that first summer and then they have their first hibernation which for little pups, they’re pretty small, that can be a big challenge too.” said Jackson.
“There’s s lot of work ahead of us but I am really optimistic” said Taylor hopefully. “I feel this is an unusual situation where we have a species where we have the core of their habitat and it is in good condition and largely protected. So few of endangered species we work with have that luxury.”
The program will continue until there are comfortably about 900 marmots on the island.
The foundation is funded solely through donations and you can read more about it here.