The Province is providing $135,000 to support the recovery of the Vancouver Island marmot over the next two years, with Island Timberlands and TimberWest contributing an additional $35,000 each for 2015. The money will go to the Marmot Recovery Foundation, a charity established to spearhead efforts to restore marmots to stable self-sustaining populations in three areas of their historic range. The funding will assist with the captive breeding program, translocation of marmots from more stable population to areas of need, research and analysis.
The Province is providing $70,000 through the Landowner Partners Fund, which has been supporting marmot recovery since 2001. The other partners in the Landowner Partners Fund are forestry companies TimberWest and Island Timberlands, each of which will contribute matching funds of $35,000 for 2015.“Through the combined efforts of government working with industry and the Marmot Recovery Foundation we have an excellent opportunity to ensure this iconic species can re-establish itself to the benefit of future generations,” explained Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The remaining $65,000 is being made available under the Province’s Land Based Investment Strategy (LBIS). The funding will be used by the Marmot Recovery Foundation to hire an additional two field staff this summer to collect additional data, and provide better season-end population, reproduction and mortality estimates. The funding will also assist in the completion of revised recovery plan documents. The LBIS is used to guide ongoing resource investments and short-term targeted investments in British Columbia’s natural resources to realize environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.
“The Vancouver Island marmot is a fantastic example of a conservation story in action. Thanks to the commitment of our partners, this cooperative model for species stewardship has already achieved some critical milestones. These new contributions will carry us forward to 2017, when we intend to update the Recovery Strategy for this species. For this reason, it is particularly important to collect strong field data over these next two years,” said Cheyney Jackson, field coordinator, Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation.
In July 2014 the Province significantly increased protection for the habitat of the Vancouver Island Marmot, adding 105 hectares of highly productive alpine meadow and subalpine habitat to the Green Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Nanaimo. The additions increased the size of the Green Mountain WMA by more than 40%, to a total of 342 hectares.
In 1998 there were as few as 70 Vancouver Island Marmots, making the species one of the world’s most endangered. In 2014, marmot populations were between 215 – 275. The recovery efforts have been successful to date, but require continued focused efforts to meet the population targets set in the Recovery Plan. The funding was announced on the same day as five captive-bred marmots were released on Mount Washington; part of ongoing efforts to recover the population.