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Wed May 15, 2024, 01:41 PM May 15

Environmentalists seek protections for marmots on Olympic Peninsula

Olympic marmots can spend up to eight months a year hibernating, emerging when the weather warms to forage for food, fatten up, and otherwise go about their business.

If you’ve traveled in the alpine terrain of western Washington’s Olympic Mountains, you may have spotted them loafing, sauntering along, or standing alert on their hind legs surveying their surroundings. The brownish, furry, burrow-dwelling creatures – technically large members of the squirrel family – are the only marmots found on the Olympic Peninsula.

In 2009, the Legislature designated them as the state’s official endemic mammal.

But environmentalists say the species is in trouble, with around 2,000 to 4,000 of the animals believed to be left after a sharp population decline from the 1990s to mid-2000s.

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