Release of Vancouver Island Marmots reaches milestone

Marmots released July 5th, 2017, Mt Washington. Photo credit: Marmot Recovery Foundation

FWCP helping one of the rarest mammals in the world

The Vancouver Island marmot is among the world’s most endangered mammals, but a captive breeding program, supported by the FWCP, is helping to turn numbers around. And, in July 2017, the Marmot Recovery Foundation celebrated a milestone with the release of the 500th marmot from the captive breeding program, which began releases in 2003.

Fifteen years ago, there were fewer than 30 Vancouver Island Marmots in the wild, and there are approximately 200 today.

The goal of Marmot Recovery Foundation is to establish a self-sustaining wild population of Vancouver Island Marmots, specifically with the target of between 400 and 600 living in three metapopulations – a group of populations that are separated by space but consist of the same species. The three areas are Nanaimo Lakes, Mount Washington, and Strathcona Provincial Park.

There are reasons for optimism for this species-at-risk. The captive breeding program, based in Calgary and Toronto Zoo, has had another good year of marmot reproduction, and the pups born this year may be released into the wild in summer 2018.

Another positive sign is the recent over-winter survival of Vancouver Island Marmots in the wild. Despite the long, cold winter and cool spring on the Island, over-winter survival has been excellent, leading biologists to hope that the marmots will have lots of pups this summer. Many of the wild marmots born today are descendants of marmots born in captivity.

So, while there is still much work to be done to ensure the survival of Vancouver Island Marmots, the recovery of this fragile species is certainly heading in the right direction.

More information about the marmot recovery project being supported by the FWCP at:

http://fwcp.ca/project/supporting-recovery-vancouver-island-marmot/

More information about Marmot Recovery Foundation: http://marmots.org/

 

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