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The 2019 Marmot & other Alpine beasties thread

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Grey day with a light drizzle, sleet at 2,000m as I drove up a "road" to investigate exactly how far I could drive vs hiking to the start of a ski tour ascent.

The brain was sort if switched off as it was so dismal, and as I drove half on the road half off managed to park up at the start of the valley plateau 1,900m as you descend down to it.

Dogs were excited as I let them out and then it was whistles galore and marmots all over the place breaking cover, and as ever the really dumb ones (though they are meant to be the pack leaders) standing above their den whistling warnings to all the others and then diving down right at the last minute as the dogs get there, in much the same way as that game with the hammer trying to hit things as they dart back down a hole.

I should add that the dogs never catch any, in much the same way as when chasing a cat, if the cat stands its ground then the dogs retreat, and thankfully they are never tempted to go down the holes, a marmot has such sharp talons that they'd make a real mess of a dog anyway!


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 8-05-19 14:31; edited 4 times in total
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Count yourself lucky the furry gits have never taken you prisoner.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Count yourself lucky the furry gits have never taken you prisoner.

Laughing

Cue pic:

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Shouldn't really be attacking the wildlife.
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Good thing the dogs don't go down the holes, but the whole game of chasing them would be my dogs idea of heaven.
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Are there any plans to introduce Marmots to the Lake District?
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@johnE, https://www.marmotshop.co.uk/ Ambleside ! Smile
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Quite amazingly, today we were ski touring back up in an area I was touring last Sat and Sun (ease of access and very few people) and there were no marmots at all back then.

Today dogs get out of the van and same as yesterday, game on!

And that was where the snow had melted, then later on off they go again after whistles and this time marmots standing on the snow above their den where they had obviously dug their way out, they must have a feckin alarm clock, and especially bizarre as the weather was really grim yesterday at that altitude as we had all of 3-4mm of fresh!

And hasten to add finally decent spring snow, topped with 3-4mm of fresh all the way!

You can just about make out one of the dogs investigating said hole.
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Animals that hibernate emerge with really little reserve left. Forcing them to flee will exhaust them and kill some. Disturbing animals that are hibernating or just emerging is one of the reasons that Heli skiing is banned in most places. Whitegold was correct but explaining why might have been useful.
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@ise, didn't seem to stop the helis I saw operating in Switzerland and Italy last week?

Plus the reason heli skiing is / was banned in France was in 1980 when Social President Valerie Giscard was caught heli-skiing on Mont Blanc, and then banned it after protests, nothing to do with marmots!
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Weathercam wrote:
@ise, didn't seem to stop the helis I saw operating in Switzerland and Italy last week?

Plus the reason heli skiing is / was banned in France was in 1980 when Social President Valerie Giscard was caught heli-skiing on Mont Blanc, and then banned it after protests, nothing to do with marmots!


One of the reasons heli-skiing is banned in most places is the disturbance of animals. This is a fact.

It was already banned in some of France prior to 1980. All that happened in 1980 was it was banned in the mont blanc massif. The relevant law is in Article L 363-1 of the Environmental Code. After heli-skiing on Mt Blanc d’Estaing was met by environmental protestors complaining about the environmental impact who explained to him what I've just explained to you. Later Mitterand rolled that out to all of France.

It's not legal in Switzerland either apart from a handful of landing sites which were just cut in number again. The reason they're not allowed to land is noise pollution which disturbs hibernating animals.

There was obviously a reason it's banned, this was it.

Not only that, the reason we have nature zones, tranquil areas and prohibitions in some areas for winter is exactly the same because those activities disturb animals who often die as a result. This is all backed by extensive public awareness campaigns by various bodies like the UIAA and trickled down to their alpine clubs and professional members. For example, in Switzerland, we have 42 federal games reserves listed (Art. 11 of the Swiss Hunting Act.) Activities are only allowed on marked routes in those zones.

Most people will have seen tranquil zones or nature reserves on their piste maps so this is something anyone in the mountains really would normally be aware of.
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^^ well said!!

Dogs shouldn't be allowed to chase animals anywhere, it's stressful for them.

It happens all the time with sheep in the south of England because people let dogs off their leads, and they die of shock as well as being attacked.
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@HoneyBunny, tell that the cat we have next door who takes great delight in being chased by my dogs, then when she stops they stop.

And guys I hear where you are coming from, but marmots around here are like rabbits, plus we do not go into the various parks etc etc

A few years back we were told off by some tourist about our dogs being off the lead, I then explained that they were allowed to be off the lead, and that it was over the road where the National Park was that they were interdit.

Ironically we 'd just come back from a short picnic where we'd curtailed our lunch due to a very inquisitive bouquetin objecting presumably to the dogs being near it.

And for the last seven years where we are the deer still come down into our garden even with the dogs giving the occasional fruitless chase, hasn't put them off over the years?

Cue the usual suspects Laughing
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@albob, They don't actually appear to be selling any marmots
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Another end of season sign is actually not a sign but a sound:

Grasshopers and crickets in the fields that we walk past to get to the Le Chable gondola up to Verbier
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Weathercam wrote:
marmots around here are like rabbits


So it's OK to be cruel?


Not having a go, I'm sure your dogs are lovely, I just think allowing them to chase things isn't nice.

I wasn't aware cats enjoy being chased by anything.
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I for one think the green lobby stopping lift develpment and opening up new ski areas is ridiculous.
There’s thousands of mountains in the alps alone where no skiing is done. Let people enjoy the mountains and they’ll be more likely to pitch in on issues such as greener ski resort running in the future...
Loads of areas which could be opened up, higher altitude too, but due to the environmental lobby this may never happen.....
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@HoneyBunny, I'll take a video for you.

This evening dogs and said cat sitting 2m apart after "playing".

Cat does live / grew up with a dog and they play together so maybe cat thinks it's a dog
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ise wrote:
Weathercam wrote:
@ise, didn't seem to stop the helis I saw operating in Switzerland and Italy last week?

Plus the reason heli skiing is / was banned in France was in 1980 when Social President Valerie Giscard was caught heli-skiing on Mont Blanc, and then banned it after protests, nothing to do with marmots!


One of the reasons heli-skiing is banned in most places is the disturbance of animals. This is a fact.


Indeed. In Spain and Andorra it's legal but the barrier to entry is high; the environmental impact reports are taken very seriously. Also in these two countries, merely skiing though certain forests in or adjacent to ski resorts is "prohibited" in order to protect the wood grouse (though who knows how it's enforced). Presumably the idea is that ski tourers - who are presumed to be a step up in terms of mountain knowledge - already know better.
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@Weathercam, a couple of things...

1
I know of no research which says that one disturbance by a dog or person kills an emergent marmot. There is research in Alaska which shows that marmots in very remote locations spend more time vigilant after disturbance and less time foraging. But European marmots are familiar with human threat, and are more jumpy about the shadows of choughs (which they think might be big raptors) than humans.

2
At this time of year they are pretty stressed and single minded about eating - they emerge now, seemingly early, because it takes around two weeks for their stomach lining to be restored. They are very very hungry, but can’t eat. They come out now, even when it appears that there is no sustenance for them, since they will be ready for it when the snow actually disappears.

But to repeat ... Marmots are used to watching actively for serious predators and I know of no evidence that one disturbance by a pair of inquisitive terriers would worry them to death.
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Saw our first Marmot last week in Montgenevre, going up the Sierre Thibaud chair. It made my friends week!
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@valais2, yes I do wonder what the marmots who decide to dig a "den" at 2,400m must be thinking when they wake up and have to dig themselves out and all around them is snow and 200m (vertical) down the hill are their mates sunbathing and foraging on green shoots, they don't seem to go down to them as their tracks only extend 10-15m from their hole.

They also seem to be far more social this time of year than later in the year, over the next three or so weeks I'll see upwards of four or five near a den, compared to the odd one in the summer.



This thread has me thinking and next time I'll take my decent camera with me and try to get in a good location to film one of the Centurions who stand on the lookout above the hole whilst the others are foraging around, and then get the OH to let the dogs out.







And one of my favourite shots I've taken, this is in an area where we do not take the dogs and you can get quite close up.

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@af20001, I like the idea of the marmots sitting on the chair to go up the hill Very Happy
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Jwh138 wrote:

There’s thousands of mountains in the alps alone where no skiing is done. Let people enjoy the mountains and they’ll be more likely to pitch in on issues such as greener ski resort running in the future...
Loads of areas which could be opened up, higher altitude too, but due to the environmental lobby this may never happen.....


I bet there aren't even hundreds of mountains left where no skiing is done - and we'll keep those that aren't already disneyfied free for those who like their powder untracked and their turns earned, thanks! The Alps must already be by FAR the most (over)developed mountain range in the world.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Count yourself lucky the furry gits have never taken you prisoner.


I remember that day so well Laughing Laughing Laughing
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Pyremaniac wrote:
ise wrote:
Weathercam wrote:
@ise, didn't seem to stop the helis I saw operating in Switzerland and Italy last week?

Plus the reason heli skiing is / was banned in France was in 1980 when Social President Valerie Giscard was caught heli-skiing on Mont Blanc, and then banned it after protests, nothing to do with marmots!


One of the reasons heli-skiing is banned in most places is the disturbance of animals. This is a fact.


Indeed. In Spain and Andorra it's legal but the barrier to entry is high; the environmental impact reports are taken very seriously. Also in these two countries, merely skiing though certain forests in or adjacent to ski resorts is "prohibited" in order to protect the wood grouse (though who knows how it's enforced). Presumably the idea is that ski tourers - who are presumed to be a step up in terms of mountain knowledge - already know better.
is that because they are protecting them for the shooting season?
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johnE wrote:
@af20001, I like the idea of the marmots sitting on the chair to go up the hill Very Happy


It was quite a sight! Very Happy
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HoneyBunny wrote:
^^ well said!!

Dogs shouldn't be allowed to chase animals anywhere, it's stressful for them.

It happens all the time with sheep in the south of England because people let dogs off their leads, and they die of shock as well as being attacked.


you put it better Very Happy that's a good point, wild animals are no different from a field of pregnant ewes or lambs.
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Pyremaniac wrote:
Presumably the idea is that ski tourers - who are presumed to be a step up in terms of mountain knowledge - already know better.


apparently not Very Happy

There's a huge knowledge that people who live and work permanently in mountain areas take for granted which is unsurprisingly not quite as obvious to casual visitors. Some professionals are no better, in one alpine country when some extensions to restrictions were proposed it was surprising that representatives from one professional body greeted them enthusiastically for everyone else with their members being exempt (which didn't fly).


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Fri 19-04-19 9:51; edited 1 time in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Never mind all that nonsense.

Are these marmots good in garlic sauce?
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Ignoring the frankly stupid statement that marmots are akin to pregnant ewes; I grew up with sheep for the first 18 yrs of my life!

Today I took some "casual visitors" cycling in the hope of spotting some critters, and mission accomplished.

So this guy is playing King of the Castle


Then his mate started to join in


Et Voila


There were quite a few groups playing around, but I think they did miss the thrill of my dogs chasing* them Laughing

*maybe chase is the wrong word, they whistle by the tops of their burrows, dogs run to marmot whistling, right at the last moment, marmot drops back down into the burrow.
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Ginger and spring onions then...
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Love the photos!
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@Weathercam, brilliant marmotte shots!
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I didn't see any Marmottes when I went to have a look earlier, they must be hiding

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@Weathercam, ...indeed hysterical.

Dogs who worry sheep rightly are shot. James Rebank recently wrote well on this.

This is in no way comparable to Randochien running over to take a curious look at Marmots who simply pop down their home hole as they do dozens of times a day.
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Sack the Juggler wrote:
Pyremaniac wrote:
ise wrote:

One of the reasons heli-skiing is banned in most places is the disturbance of animals. This is a fact.


Indeed. In Spain and Andorra it's legal but the barrier to entry is high; the environmental impact reports are taken very seriously. Also in these two countries, merely skiing though certain forests in or adjacent to ski resorts is "prohibited" in order to protect the wood grouse (though who knows how it's enforced). Presumably the idea is that ski tourers - who are presumed to be a step up in terms of mountain knowledge - already know better.
is that because they are protecting them for the shooting season?

No, it's because they are very very weak during the winter, yet will take fright and panic if disturbed - which sadly can apparently be enough to knock them off.

Certainly, it's stopped me from taking tree runs for granted.

Returning to one of the other gists of the thread: if your dog chases wildlife it should be kept on the lead. I'm struggling to understand how anyone could argue otherwise.

(Edited solely to correct typos)


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Fri 19-04-19 21:01; edited 1 time in total
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@Pyremaniac, so what height are your tree runs?

In all my years I've never come across marmots in the tree line, more often than not they habit above the tree line, at least in this part of the world.

I look forward out of curiosity to see photos (not google library) you've taken of photots of marmots in trees!

That said I've seen Porcupines on trees at 3000m in Colorado this year!

But you can't compare treelines in the Rockied with Euro Alps


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Fri 19-04-19 20:57; edited 1 time in total
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Puzzled

We were talking about wood grouse.
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@Pyremaniac, sincere apologies I read that wrong. Tomorrow I'll post images of Grouse territory protection areas for ski tourers!
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