Researchers are conducting a four-year study of a mammal species found only on the North Olympic Peninsula — the Olympic marmot.
The scientists hope the study, begun in late May, will provide an accurate population count of the species, details on the distribution of the mammals throughout Olympic National Park and surrounding forest areas and insight into species health.
The near-extinction of the Vancouver Island marmot in the past decade is also driving the study, researchers said. Only about 25 live in the wild, and researchers have been attempting to breed and study about 30 Vancouver Island marmots in captivity.
“The fact that the Olympic marmot is an endemic species and so little research has been done was very appealing,” said primary researcher Sue Cox, a student seeking her doctorate in wildlife biology through the University of Montana.
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