Recovering endangered Vancouver Island marmots

Project Year: 2023-2024

Multi-year Project

View Provincial Database Record

Photo: Adam Taylor

Project Lead

Marmot Recovery Foundation


Coastal Region



Project Type

Habitat-Based Actions

FWCP Contribution


Action Plan Alignment

Upland & Dryland

Project ID


Translocating Vancouver Island Marmots to Strathcona Park 2023

This project will support the transfer of between two and six Vancouver Island marmots from Mount Washington into Strathcona Park. These additions will help re-established colonies persist while future recovery efforts continue.

The marmot, which is federally designated as Endangered, is an endemic species that was extirpated from Strathcona Park in the 1990s. Reintroduction efforts have successfully established several marmot colonies in the park.

Update: Sixteen pups born in Strathcona Park in summer 2023

The Marmot Recovery Foundation counted 16 pups born into the Strathcona marmot population in summer 2023. It’s a significant increase from the previous summer, when only four pups were born in this group.

Climate conditions can have a big impact on endangered species recovery. Long term, it’s a good sign that this marmot population was able to recover from a challenging year in 2022.

Executive Summary

The endangered Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis, Swarth, 1911) is one of only five endemic land mammals in Canada (Nagorsen, 2004). The Vancouver Island marmot is recognized as a protected species under the B.C. Wildlife Act and is on the B.C. Red List of species at risk. Nationally, it is listed under Schedule 1, Endangered, on the Species-at-Risk Act. Internationally, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as Critically Endangered. A recovery program for the marmot was launched in 1996, and 2023 was the 27th year of intensive recovery efforts.

During the 2023 field season, the Foundation conducted core recovery activities intended to: (i) increase the number of marmots in the wild and protect the persistence of existing colonies, (ii) support wild reproduction, and (iii) relocate marmots found in unsuitable habitat. The Wilder institute helped the Foundation to monitor marmots at several colonies while also investigating the relationship between supplemental feeding and reproduction in the wild. Data from their team have been incorporated into the results reported here.

In total, 42 new captive-bred marmots and 11 marmots with some level of previous wild-living experience were released or translocated to augment fifteen priority colonies. Thirty-six feeders were installed at 24 colonies to improve the reproductive potential of ~239 marmots. Seventeen natural colonies produced 59 pups over 23 litters. There were 29 mortalities detected in 2023. Five marmots were brought into captivity during the summer and subsequently re-released or translocated for various reasons. Since 2003, the captive breeding program has resulted in the release of 619 captive-bred marmots into the wild. Currently there are 149 marmots in captivity, including 39 or more potential breeding pairs for 2023. Wild population counts of marmots increased for all age classes compared to the previous year. Approximately 303 marmots were observed in the wild by the end of the season, distributed across 33 colonies in two main regions. Survey effort was similar to the previous 4-year rolling average at most colonies, with the notable exception of the 4 new colonies discovered this year.

This report presents the results from the 2023 field season and trends in recent years. It includes reports on activities aligning with the Campbell River Watershed Action Plan (CBR.UAD.HB.25.02 Implement priority species and habitat related conservation actions – Implement Recommended Actions from the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Strategy) and the Puntledge River Action Plan (PUN.UAD.HB.22.02 Implement priority species and habitat related conservation actions – Implement Recommended Actions from the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Strategy).


Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.

View more about this project on the provincial database