British Columbia: Marmots facing economic challenge?

More Marmot info here: http://www.counterpunch.org/lee11152005.html

Photo by: Andrew Bryant

I so much appreciate how many unknowingly antagonistic layers there are in this article below:

1) Preventing species extinction is only possible if it’s “affordable.”

2) Deforestation / causation of habitat destruction is not explained.

3) Humans tracking technology is the only way to assure recovery?

4) Long-term Inbreeding from a small remnant population is less valid than the first ever year of “successful” breeding in the wild

5) Outrage related to Eagle / other predator control slaughters is not  worthy of mention.

6) Motivation of funders of the program is not explained as a corrupted / flawed mitigation for Marmot habitat destruction

7) Signing a petition and making an almost extinguished species a Olympic Mascot will bring accountability / resolution to the problem.

8) Zero-accountability for what happens if the captive-breeding program fails because the destroyers now have an option to make excuses for not paying. I mean it doesn’t really have to matter to them anymore because they already got the habitat destruction they wanted, right? à Your thoughts on this?

Any clarification so we can all better understand the issue? –Editor, Forest Policy Research

Photo by: Andrew Bryant

Breeding and reintroduction programs are helping the Vancouver Island marmot regain much of its former territory, which includes parts of the Cowichan Valley in the Lake Cowichan area. Unfortunately, the marmots may end up being unsuspecting victims of the economic crisis. “The economic downturn has cut back our resources,” explained Crystal Reid, a contractor with the Marmot Recovery Foundation. “And we’ve had to cut back on our budget. Because of the economy, we’re not sure who will be our supporters next season.”

Get full text; support writer, producer of the words: http://www.canada.com/Marmots+facing+economic+challenge/1258486/story.html

Among the major supporters of the MRF in recent years are the Government of British Columbia, BC Hydro, TimberWest, Island Timberlands, the Mount Washington Alpine and Ski Resort, the BC Wildlife Federation, WWF-Canada and Environment Canada, as well as private individual donors. While many of them will continue to support the program, the MRF is concerned that their budget might still be reduced. “We’re not sure what our supporters can commit,” said Reid. “It’s critical at this point, too. Facilities like zoos and our Mt. Washington facility are maxed out. With the exception of funding concerns, the program is doing extremely well. A significant number of pups were born last year, including many from the second generation born in the wild “They’re doing all the things required for the recovery of the species,” said Reid. “Recovery is possible, but we need to keep helping them out. There were 11 litters born in the wild last year, totalling 33 pups, a major increase over a few years ago, when only one litter might be born in the wild. “The numbers have really improved,” Reid commented. “When I started five years ago, we knew of less than 50 in the wild. Now we have between 140 and 160.” In this coming year, there are 60 more marmots scheduled to be released, as well as potential pups. The biggest impact that the economic downturn could have on the Vancouver Island marmot could be the reduction in the number of tracking chips, which Reid says are crucial to the recovery of the species. “If we just release them without a tracking device, it is hard to see if the numbers are going up,” she explained. “Before tracking devices, scientists thought they were dying in hibernation, but now we know the causes of death. It makes a huge difference. You want to release them and take care of them after you release them, and to do that, you need a tracking device.” There are several ways to help ensure that the Marmot Recovery Foundation continues to function at a high level. Concerned citizens can sign a petition to the B.C. government at www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/735804286 or support the Vancouver Sun’s campaign to make Vancouver Island marmot Mukmuk an official mascot of the 2010 Winter Olympics (Mukmuk currently has only “sidekick” status). They can also visit the MRF website at www.marmots.org, where there are several ways to help out, including adopting a marmot or purchasing a stuffed toy. Get full text; support writer, producer of the words: http://www.canada.com/Marmots+facing+economic+challenge/1258486/story.html

Comments (5)

PHSocialMedia (Social Media Phil.)February 13th, 2009 at 10:22 am

British Columbia: Marmots facing economic challenge? http://tinyurl.com/bv9nhh

CoffeeTalkee (CoffeeTalkee)February 13th, 2009 at 10:36 am

British Columbia: Marmots facing economic challenge? http://tinyurl.com/bv9nhh

peacefromtreesFebruary 13th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Written by Ingmar Lee
Sunday, 08 July 2007

Not Out of the Woods Yet

Recently the Victoria Times Colonist announced the ‘thumbs-up” news that Canada’s most endangered species, the Vancouver Island marmot, has been brought back from the brink of extinction and now numbers more than 200 animals. Over the past few years the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Project, which is currently funded by tax-payers and the TimberWest and Island Timberlands logging companies, has received bad press for its clumsy efforts to save the marmot. These efforts have included the scapegoating of predators as the proximate cause of the marmot’s extinction which resulted in years of controversial wolf and cougar culling and the scandalous shooting of Golden eagles (authorized by Nancy Wilkin, currently Deputy Minister in the Campbell governments farcical ‘Ministry of the Environment who continues to sit on the BOD of the VIM Recovery Project) which embarrassed British Columbia before the world. So why not celebrate this news that Vancouver Island marmot populations are now finally on the increase?

Well, first of all, the public needs to know that wild-born Vancouver Island marmots are now totally extinct, having passed away into oblivion, without obituary, several years ago. That means that all of the 200 marmots that are alive today are laboratory-bred specimens which have been born and raised in captivity. These lab-born animals are slated for release onto the empty former sub-alpine colony sites with a hope and a prayer that they might somehow make themselves at home again, re-occupy a cold and lonely burrow and reproduce. For this purpose, the VIM Project has managed to secure some of the naturally treeless meadows and ridges around their final Green Mountain redoubt where wild Vancouver Island marmots made their last stand on this Earth. Every year, the distribution of lab-bred marmots over the extinct colony sites offers much-coveted PR photo-ops for government and logging industry officials who are depicted cuddling the cute animals as they are released.

The second thing that the public needs to know is that the protection and restoration of critical Vancouver Island Marmot habitat is not part of the Recovery project. Aside from several small sub-alpine colony sites above the tree line which have been protected, the forested connectivity corridors which once provided essential safe-access for marmots between their many mountain-top colony sites are entirely unprotected. Wild marmots once traversed the thickly forested valleys between their colony sites to spread out their gene-pool to avoid inbreeding. Not any more. These areas of marmot habitat are now dedicated as perpetual logging zones, where having cleared the old-growth forests from the valley bottoms to the tops of the mountains, the logging companies are now stripping away second-growth down at the bottom again. The cutting has been so voracious that the companies are now hacking into stands of timber as young as 30 years old. One can see truckloads of these ‘pecker-poles’ any day on the Island Highway, headed for the ocean log dumps from where they are exported in the round to feed American saw-mills.

The lab-bred marmots are now being released into a single complex of colony sites along the Green Mountain/Gemini Ridge and will never be able to fulfill their wild instinctual imperative to disperse across the mountains. Without protection and restoration of connectivity in the region, the Vancouver Island marmot can never regain its wildness and will be forever dependent on human intervention and captive breeding. This is the same management ideology which has been revealed recently in the Campbell government’s secret scheme for the Spotted owl, in which they plan to capture all of BC’s 16-or-so remaining owls for captive breeding so that all of its remaining old-growth habitat can be destroyed by logging. Just like the long established practice of allowing the total destruction by logging of natural salmon-spawning habitat which is replaced with occasional fish-breeding hatcheries along our devastated rivers. Just like the government’s final management solution for the imminent logging-caused extinction of BC’s Mountain caribou: a massive predator cull while allowing the logging destruction of its habitat to continue.

The logging corporations have enjoyed significant tax breaks on their ‘private lands’ and pay nowhere near the rates that ordinary landholders on Vancouver Island do. This presumably was so that they would continue to manage the land base for forestry purposes. But now TimberWest and Island Timberlands have sprouted real estate arms and are selling off massive chunks of their denuded stumpfields for subdivision and development. This, of course, pays significantly more quarterly dividends for their shareholders than sitting around waiting for the trees to grow back ever could. But it does nothing whatsoever for the wild creatures which depend on those forests. In the wake of southern Vancouver Island’s logging holocaust, we are left with a legacy of despoiled drinking-water supplies, erosion, invasive species proliferation (Scotch broom, fireweed etc.) extreme fire hazards, massive log jams, sprawling subdivisions and of course, extinctions. The logging has utterly destroyed the balances of nature which once allowed wolves, cougars, Golden eagles and marmots to coexist together on the landscape.

The annual distribution of fresh, lab-bred marmot pups into their extremely degraded habitat may offer some fancy PR photo-ops, but without habitat protection and restoration, the Vancouver Island marmot will remain entirely dependent on artificial means such as captive breeding for their survival. And ultimately, after the companies have logged and flogged all of their remaining forestlands they will disappear too. Weyerhaeuser abandoned the VIM Recovery Project when it cut-and-run from Vancouver Island after 7 years of gutting marmot habitat. As the logging companies laugh their way to the bank, the beleaguered tax-payer will ultimately be responsible for the enormous costs of cleaning up the mess.

Ingmar Lee planted trees on Vancouver Island for 21 years and has seen the scale of devastation firsthand. He now works to protect what’s left of the forests. He can be reached through his website: http://www.ingmarlee.com

Andrew BryantApril 30th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Editor’s note: Based on the comments below this article has been updated!

Nice to see that my photography regarding Vancouver Island marmots is still used…but not properly credited. Too bad the top photo is not of a Vancouver Island marmot! That fact should provide, for careful readers, a head’s up that not all is as it seems.

Try reading the science. Google Scholar is your friend.

Leave a comment

Your comment