- Last of the Wild
How Canada's Most Endangered Mammal Was Saved
The Vancouver Island marmot once plummeted to a wild population below 30. But a band of devoted conservationists brought it back.
Fifteen years ago, a group of researchers returned from their annual field survey of Vancouver Island marmots with dire news: They had only been able to locate 22 animals. The entire wild population of this species was smaller than a kindergarten class. Conservationists estimated that within a year, it would go extinct in the wild.
The bad news got worse. The marmots weren’t breeding well in captivity, and the first attempt to release captive-bred marmots failed. These captive creatures weren’t entering hibernation, which is apparently necessary for them to breed. And three of the four released marmots were killed by cougars.
“It just seemed like blow after blow after blow for the population,” recalls Malcolm McAdie, veterinarian and captive