The Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) is British Columbia?s only endemic mammal species; it lives only in mountainous areas on Vancouver Island. For 7?8 months of the year (approximately early October to May), family groups of Vancouver Island Marmots hibernate in underground burrows called hibernacula. During the 4?5 month active season in which they breed, raise young, and regain weight, marmots continue to use their underground burrow systems for resting, avoiding summer heat, and protection from predators. They also spend considerable time above ground foraging, resting, sunning, and interacting with other marmots. Marmots typically live in colonies and when above ground, they rely on alarm calls to warn others in the colony that a predator is nearby. The main predators of the Vancouver Island Marmot are Golden Eagles, Cougars, and Grey Wolves.
The Vancouver Island Marmot was originally designated in 1978 as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The status of the Vancouver Island Marmot was re-evaluated by COSEWIC and confirmed as Endangered in 1997, 2000, and 2008. The COSEWIC rational for 2008 designation was small population size (< 30 mature wild-born marmots), making them susceptible to stochastic events; high predation; risk from inbreeding; and climate change. It is listed as Endangered in Canada on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. In British Columbia, the Vancouver Island Marmot is ranked S1 (critically imperiled) by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre and is on the provincial Red list. The B.C. Conservation Framework ranks the Vancouver Island Marmot as a priority 1 under goal #1 (contribute to global efforts for species and ecosystem conservation) and goal #3 (maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystem). It is protected from capture and killing under the province?s Wildlife Act. It is also listed as a species that requires special management attention to address the impacts of forest and range activities under the Forest and Range Practices Act and/or the impacts of oil and gas activities under the Oil and Gas Activities Act on Crown land.
The recovery (population and distribution) goal is to maintain or increase the abundance of Vancouver Island Marmots in at least two geographically separated areas within the species? historic range, and to ensure connectivity within each of these areas. The recovery goal will be met when, in the absence of population augmentation using captive-bred individuals, the metapopulation in each of the two areas (and therefore the species overall) has a > 90% probability of persistence over 100 years.
The recovery plan has the following seven objectives.
1. Increase the number of marmots through augmentation and, if possible, by increasing survival rates and reproductive rates in the wild.
2. Maximize opportunities for successful dispersion between colonies.
3. Maintain a large and genetically diverse captive-breeding population that can produce adequate numbers of release candidates to support population recovery.
4. Prioritize the maintenance of genetic variability in the global population until recovery goals are met.
5. Reduce knowledge gaps surrounding: (a) natural levels of variability in survival and reproductive rates in the wild; (b) factors that determine key demographic rates; and (c) the best method to monitor population size and key demographic rates long term.
6. Develop and implement a plan for reducing intensive management as metapopulations recover.
7. Develop and implement a sound strategy to ensure sufficient resources are available to support recovery efforts until recovery goals are met.
Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Team. 2017. Recovery Plan for the Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) in British Columbia. Province of B.C.. BC Recovery Strategy (Species at Risk)
Topic: Recovery Planning
Scientific Name: Marmota vancouverensis
English Name: Vancouver Island Marmot
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