Recovery of the endangered Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) is contingent upon releases of captive-born marmots into natural habitats. Success of such re-introduction programs largely depends on the ability of released animals to survive in the wild. However, whether and to what extent survival and cause-specific mortality rates of captive-born marmots differ from those of their wild-born counterparts remains unknown. We used radio-telemetry (1992–2007) and mark-resighting (1987– 2007) data to estimate seasonal and annual survival rates of the Vancouver Island marmot, to compare survival and cause-specific mortality rates of captive-born marmots that have been released into the natural habitat with those of wild-born marmots, and to test for the effect of age-at-release on survival of the released marmots. Analysis of radio-telemetry data suggested no difference in survival of males versus females. However, annual survival of captive-born marmots released into the wild was low (S = 0.605; 95% CI = 0.507–0.696) compared to wild-born marmots (S = 0.854; 95% CI = 0.760–0.915). Marmots released as 2-year-old or older survived more successfully than those released as yearlings. Additional forensic evidence reinforced the idea that predation was the most important cause of mortality. Causes of death differed significantly between captive-born and wild-born marmots. Predation by golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetus) was the most important cause of mortality for captive-born marmots, whereas predation by wolves (Canis lupus) and cougars (Felis concolor) was more important for wild-born marmots. Agespecific apparent annual survival rate, estimated using the combined mark-resighting and radio-telemetry data, was lowest for pups (S = 0.500; 95% CI = 0.375–0.616) and highest for yearlings and adults (S = 0.656; 95% CI = 0.604–0.705); and apparent survival of 2-year-old was similar to that of yearlings and adults (S = 0.649; 95% CI = 0.527–0.754). Our results, based on the analysis of radio-telemetry data, suggest that delaying release of captive-born marmots until 2 years of age may enhance their probability of survival in the wild, and will likely improve the success of the release program
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