Despite a sleepy start — and perhaps six more weeks of winter due to a shadow — there is hope for a productive population of Vancouver Island marmots this year.
The Vancouver Island marmot population has been recovering since the species nearly went extinct, but thanks to the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation, their population has risen, particularly with 106 pups born within the past two years.
The groundhog, otherwise known as the marmot, did see her shadow on Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) at the foundation’s facility on Mount Washington, so for Vancouver Island residents, that could mean another six weeks of winter.
The Island marmot is endemic to Canada and one of only a small handful of mammals to occur in the country and nowhere else. In 2004, less than 30 remained in the wild.
The good news for Violet (or Van Isle Violet the Second), is that she is a new member of the Captive Breeding Program and hopes are that she will carry on the marmot tradition in the area, explained Adam Taylor, executive director of the foundation.
Wild Violet was lost at the end of the 2021 season due to a cougar predation, he added.
“She (Van Isle Violet the Second) is far more accessible,” said Taylor. “However, just as grumpy. Maybe even more grumpy.”
Female breeding-age marmots generally have between two to six babies in a litter. In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; in 2020, it reached 46. Marmots breed in May and they have a gestation period of about one month.
For more information on the foundation or to support the marmot recovery foundation, visit marmots.org.