Supporting Recovery of Endangered Vancouver Island Marmot

Marmot Pups

Vancouver Island Marmot: Buttle Lake Supplementation and Monitoring 2016

The Vancouver Island Marmot is critically endangered and endemic to B.C. Since 2007, recovery efforts have worked to re-establish marmot colonies in historic habitat near Buttle Lake. The number of colonies near Buttle Lake has increased from one to 14, and the population has grown from 10, to more than 100 marmots. However, these fledgling colonies are still small and extremely vulnerable. This project will release captive-bred and wild-born marmots to strengthen existing colonies and improve colony distribution and connectivity. It will also collect data on survival and reproduction by marmots released in previous years. Statistical analysis will identify the release strategy through which marmots are most likely to succeed. Results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Direct wildlife benefits of this project include:

  1. Improved female body condition and increased maternal likelihood for weaning litters at four to five sites in 2017. This is the expected result from spring feeder installation.
  2. Increased overall likelihood for breeding in 2017 and 2018, as a result of releasing or translocating 20-30 marmots into the Buttle Lake area in 2016. Some wild-born and pre-conditioned marmots have bred in their first post-release summer, and those that do not are likely to breed the following summer.
  3. Increased distribution of colonies, so that dispersing marmots can find other colonies while traveling shorter distances. This should decrease the physiological demands on dispersing individuals, while also reducing their exposure to risk.
  4. Increased number of marmots in the landscape, naturally colonizing new locations and functioning as ecological engineers in their historic habitat. Marmots may exert influence on three kilometres of habitat around their home burrow, and so releases at four to five sites will strengthen or restore marmot influence over 12-15 kilometres, at minimum.

Indirect wildlife benefits of this project include:

  1. Ten sites monitored by remote cameras, in order to collect data on resident tagged and untagged marmots, reproduction, and predator visits.
  2. An additional 20-30 active transmitters near Buttle Lake to provide post-release survival and location data.
  3. Collection of data on approximately 50 marmots with transmitters already established in the Buttle Lake area.
  4. Trapping and implantation of four to 10 marmots born in situ near Buttle Lake, to facilitate data collection on survival and dispersal (if also prioritized by the Recovery Team).

Learn more about this project.