Vancouver Island marmots are Canada’s most endangered mammal, but they’re populations have been rebounding. From a low of 30 wild marmots (Marmota vancouverensis) occupying just a few locations in 2003, they have increased to about 200 spread out across 20 Vancouver Island mountains, thanks to a successful captive breeding and release program. More than 100 marmot pups were born in the wild over the last two years.
“I think there’s reason for real optimism, that we have some science and some modeling that is demonstrating that we have an approach that can bring this species back,” Adam Taylor, executive director of the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation.
Biologists have found success releasing marmots first to the Mount Washington ski area, where they can acclimate to a natural environment. They hope the success with the marmots can build support for recovering other endangered species.
“We need success stories in the conservation world. This is not an easy time to work with wildlife,” Taylor told Canada’s National Observer. “We need to be able to demonstrate that it’s possible to bring these species back because that’s the task that we’re going to be engaged in more and more often. And if we don’t have success stories, then it’s going to be really hard for us to justify why we want to save any one of these species.”
Read more from the National Observer here, and watch below for a glimpse at a pair of Vancouver Island marmot yearlings caught on camera.