Happy Groundhog Day

Here’s a message from Powell River’s resident ecologist, Dr. Andrew Bryant, in celebration of Groundhog Day.

Today’s stories in the popular media about groundhogs, I fear, miss out on some of the more interesting bits.

I think of the complex social behaviour, the science behind long-term demography, the history of marmots and bubonic plague, the amazing story of First Nations use of marmots, the role of governments in funding and then de-funding science, the ongoing rape & pillage of BC’s forests in the name of economic growth, and the complexities of dispersal, genetics, and predator-prey relationships in human-modified landscapes.

Vancouver Island marmots are beautiful, wild, funny as hell…and they came about as close to extinction as I ever wish to think about again.

For me, Groundhog Day is a reminder of the amazing resilience of love…and hope…


Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday celebrated annually on February 2. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will come early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

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