Three captive-bred Vancouver Island Marmots were released on Mount Washington Tuesday in hopes of growing the species, which is still considered Canada’s most endangered mammal.
Mike Lester, field co-ordinator for the Marmot Recovery Foundation said the release is to bolster the population and get it to a stage where it can be self-sustaining.
“When we get to a point – maybe 600 or 1,000 marmots – when a bad year doesn’t bring it down to that low level where we’re really concerned and it can tough those years out, it’s self-sustaining – that’s the number we’re looking for.”
The three marmots – two males and a female – were raised at the Calgary Zoo, and Lester explained they will spend the first few days in their new home exploring their surroundings and will attempt to make small excursions away from their nest box.
“It’s great to see them wide-eyed as they look at the big wide world. They’ve only seen the inside of a cage until now, and after a year of life, they’re seeing the natural habitat.”
For more information, visit marmots.org.