Hoary marmots occur in many of the mountain ranges of western Montana. Populations tend to be isolated in “sky islands”, so if a local population goes extinct, it would probably be impossible marmots to repopulate by migration. The Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum, in conjunction with the Rocky Mountaineers, is launching a citizen science project to determine whether hoary marmots are still found at the locations where they were historically collected between 1895-1980, or whether they have become extirpated in a pattern that suggests an effect of stress due to environmental change.
Alden Wright is helping to recruit volunteers to visit sites where museum specimens were collected in the mid 1900s. This is a good chance to combine a trip to a mountain lake or peak with a contribution to this project. The website for this project is http://hs.umt.edu/umzm/marmots.php where you can learn more about the project and sign up to volunteer. This website is currently being updated.
Many of the historical museum specimens were collect by Philip L. Wright who was a zoology professor at the University of Montana from 1939 to the 1980s. Alden Wright is the son of Philip L. Wright and participated in family marmot collection expeditions, and he initiated this project as a way to continue the scientific research of his father.