News Default Protecting Olympic Marmots: A Call to Action
0
Endangered species

Published :

Protecting Olympic Marmots: A Call to Action

SEATTLE— The Center for Biological Diversity has taken a crucial step to safeguard Olympic marmots by filing a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These rare marmots, exclusive to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, face mounting threats that could push them to the brink of extinction.

The Iconic Denizens of Alpine Meadows

Olympic marmots, those giant, fluffy ground-dwelling squirrels, inhabit alpine and subalpine meadows as well as rocky slopes. Their primary range lies within the Olympic National Park, where they spend up to eight months hibernating each year. During the summer, they double their body weight, a remarkable feat for these unique creatures.

A Precarious Existence

With a population estimated at just 2,000 to 4,000 individuals, Olympic marmots face significant challenges. In the 1990s, their numbers plummeted, and by 2006, 60% of known marmot colonies were unoccupied. Coyotes, historically absent from the Olympic Peninsula, now pose a serious threat. Predation by coyotes accounts for 85% of documented marmot predation events.

Climate Change and the Missing Wolves

Climate change exacerbates the situation. As trees move uphill due to warming temperatures, alpine meadow habitat shrinks, fragmenting the remaining areas where Olympic marmots live. Less spring snowpack allows coyotes to occupy higher terrain, placing marmots at even greater risk.

Historically, wolves kept coyotes in check, but they were eradicated from the Olympic Peninsula in the early 20th century. Facilitating natural colonization or reintroducing wolves from British Columbia could give marmots a better chance at survival.

Our Responsibility

Beautifully flowered alpine meadows, like those on Hurricane Ridge, are at risk of disappearing in our warming world. It's time to take action. We must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas pollution to save the Olympic marmot and preserve the unique ecosystems they inhabit.

  • Reactions

    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *