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MA SLM 602 - Innovation Movie: The Marmot Recovery

Video by: Haina Wan, Victoria Huang, Jenny Zhong
SLM 602 – Case studies in Sustainability 
Instructor: Dr. Nicole L.Vaugeois
November 2014
The Marmot Recovery
Vancouver Island marmot is the most famous animal on Vancouver Island and perhaps even the most famous endangered animal in Canada. "Endangered" is the second most severe conservation status of wild populations, following critically endangered. Vancouver Island marmot is a group living animal and it usually hibernates for seven months of the year.The marmots inhabit established sub-alpine meadows where they can find their preferred foods: grasses, sedges, and herbs. However, many of the plants they eat are not available in fresh clear-cuts, and scientists believe this could be one of the reasons there is a greater mortality in these areas.It is estimated that in 2008, approximately 90 individuals existed in the wild, and that 160 were in captive breeding programs. With population numbers so low, the Vancouver Island marmot faces a twofold threat of predation and habitat loss. With only 90 in the wild, natural predation becomes a serious problem, and many efforts, including outright kills, to control the wolf and cougar predation have been made. Habitat loss continues to be a grave concern for the marmots. Only 10% of their overall population live on protecting land, with the rest residing in the active logging territory.Overall, Vancouver Island marmot is at grave risk of extinction. Fortunately, intensive efforts are underway to rebuild their population and re-release captive bred animals into the wild. Built in 2001 within marmot habitat—Mt Washington, the Tony Barrett Recovery Centre provides a key link in the management and release of captive-born animals prior to their release to other sites in the wild. The Recovery Centre provides disease management by providing the final stage of quarantine in a single species facility and provides logistical flexibility for releasing marmots – that is, allowing the marmots to be acclimated to release conditions with respect to elevation, weather and natural foods. Ongoing restoration efforts have seen some success, the number of Vancouver Island marmots at Mt. Washington increase from 32 in 2001 to more than 400 in 2013.

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