Yes, they celebrate Groundhog Day in Canada too! And groundhogs, also known as woodchucks in Eastern North America are marmots. So that makes Vancouver Island marmots woodchucks, too!
Sadly Herman passed away last year in the Toronto Zoo but he wanted to thank the US Postal Service for featuring him among 19 other Endangered species commemorating the US Endangered Species Act’s 50th anniversary in a beautiful collection of stamps issued last year using photos from Joel Sartore (who has made it his mission to photograph all of the world’s endangered species).
But how did a Canadian species make the US endangered species stamp line up? Because this marmot is one of the most endangered species in the world, his habitat is close to the states, and the Vancouver Island Marmot represents a symbol of hope. Thanks to the efforts of the Marmot Recovery Foundation, Calgary Zoo, Toronto Zoo and other organizations this species’ population has been slowly recovering (now 258 individuals in 20 colonies) from its low of 30 in 2003.
I hope that he continues to see his shadow for perpetuity!
And here are some fun facts on the Vancouver Island Marmot:
It is the only endemic mammal species to British Columbia. And only one of 5 endemic mammal species in the entire country of Canada.
The Canadian Postal Service featured the Vancouver Island marmot on a stamp in the 1981.
MukMuk one of the Vancouver Olympic Mascots was a Vancouver Island Marmot.
One of the best places to see these guys in the wild is on Mount Washington near Strathcona Provincial Park’s Forbidden Plateau.
I think I may have to go hiking there this summer!
Save the marmots!
Happy Groundhog day everyone!