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Marmot Recovery by Adam Taylor

GROWLS first quarterly meeting for 2017 with a  Presentation about The Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery given by Adam Taylor,executive director of the program

GROWLS hosted an excellent and enlightening presentation on the Vancouver island marmot on thursday february 16th at the Roxy. Adam Taylor,executive director of the Marmot Recovery Foundation of Vancouver Island, was an engaging and most informative speaker as well as being a dedicated conservationist. He  emphasized that the Vancouver island marmot is in significant danger of being wiped out  and is on the Canada  “species at risk” list. The Vancouver island marmot is one of 5 mammals to occur nowhere else in the world but in the one habitat.It is the largest of the marmots and belongs to the squirrel family. It is very appealing to look at  and is a gentle creature.

These marmots naturally occur in the mountainous regions of Vancouver island at approximately 1000 metres.This is an area where the land is treeless  and exposed to the south  and west ,where they can lounge on rocks near their burrows and watch for predators.Unfortunately they have moved into logged areas which eventually grow bushes and trees where the marmots become easy pickings for predators; perhaps one of the reasons for the dramatic decline in population. The marmots' first seasonal food is early grasses  and sedges which are exposed as the snow melts.

The marmot recovery program has been responsible for breeding these nearly extinct creatures in captivity.Volunteers release the new families into the wild and then carefully monitor their progress  whilst keeping  areas clear of brush  and giving  additional feedings if times are lean.

The families live in groups called colonies  and marmots will disperse  and make new colonies  and also replenish depleted colonies.Hibernation is in deep burrows in the ground and is from mid September until late April. Marmots warn each other of predators by a loud piercing whistle which has given rise to their nick name of “Whistle pigs”.

The Vancouver Island recovery effort relies on the cooperation and support of provincial government as trustees of the marmots, the forest industry as landowners,  and the public as concerned citizens. Mt Moriarty  and Mt. Washington are the 2 target areas for reintroducing the marmots.If anyone has opportunity to photograph a marmot, the recovery organization would love to hear from you.It is thanks to the work of the wonderful volunteers that future generations of people will be able to appreciate these delightful creatures.It is a hard job in difficult terrain to monitor the marmots, clear land of trees  and bushes so predators are visible, booster feed, capture ailing marmots,  and release new families into this environment on the mountain slopes.

There is an excellent web site for the marmot recovery program if you wish to read more or become involved in some way.

GROWLS is very grateful to Adam Taylor for enriching our first meeting of the year with his excellent presentation. All who turned out for the evening enjoyed the event  and it is hoped that a wild life presentation or special attraction will be part of our future meetings.

Submitted by Joanna Mackenzie

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