Thursday, November 1, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic marmot tile

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New 8x8 relief carved and hand painted Vancouver Island Marmot tile.
This is the first tile in an endangered species series I'm carving.  $5.00 from each tile sold will be donated to the Vancouver Island Marmot recovery foundation.
One of the rarest mammals in the world,  Vancouver Island Marmots live in colonies on small patches of south and west facing alpine and sub alpine meadows,  hibernating below ground from mid September until late April or early May. The marmots Summer is spent foraging on grasses, herbs and wildflowers. Boulders typically found in these meadows are an important feature of  a marmot habitat providing convenient lookout spots as well as heat sinks to help regulate their body temperature, marmots often spend early mornings and evenings stretched out on them. Nose touching and play boxing are common social behaviors, and when alarmed marmots give piercingly loud whistles. The Vancouver Island marmot has five distinct whistles and trills for different purposes, more than any other marmot species. Once,  relatively small colonies were distributed widely in alpine meadows throughout Vancouver Island and to avoid interbreeding two year olds of both sexes would disperse to other colonies to find a mate. In order for dispersing marmots to find potential mates there must be a healthy community of colonies within range. In the mid 1990's the marmot population began to rapidly decline until by 1998 only 70 were recorded in the wild and with the exception of one lone colony on Mt. Washington they were all located in one small geographic location east of  Nanaimo lakes. With populations being so fragmented, dispersing marmots were unable to find mates. Although still critically endangered, thanks to recent recovery efforts the population has increased from less than 30 in the wild in 2003 to an estimated 320-370 marmots on 28 mountains in 2011.
For more information about the Vancouver Island Marmot and on going recovery efforts please visit 

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