A new management action implemented in COAT Varanger Arctic fox module

Publisert 15.02.2018

On February 13, twenty-seven captive bred arctic foxes were released on the Varanger Peninsula as a new management action to prevent extinction of the species in northernmost Fennoscandia.

Photo: Geir Østereng
Photo: Geir Østereng

Since 2004 the precursor project of the COAT Varanger Arctic fox module – “Arctic fox in Finnmark” - monitored the development of the small arctic fox population on Varanger Peninsula, analyzed ecosystem drivers and assessed the impact of red fox culling as a management action. The results were recently published in a synthesis paper, which concluded that the population is now on the brink extinction, probably as a combined effect of its initial smallness and a missed lemming peak in 2015. Although the red fox culling has had a positive effect on arctic fox area use, it has not been sufficient to counteract the effect demographic stochasticity (smallness) and environmental change/stochasticity (the missed lemming peak).

The new management action (i.e. release of captive bred foxes) – which will be a collaborative effort between COAT and the captive breeding project of NINA – has the ambition to release the Varanger arctic foxes from “the smallness trap”. New batches of arctic foxes will be released, at least, over the next 3 years. This action will be complemented with supplementary feeding and continued red fox culling.  

Norway’s minister of Climate and the Environment Ola Elvestuen - together with a delegation from his department – participated in this first release action. Watch the news feature from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).       


Media were present at the release,
Photo: Geir Østereng

Minister of Climate and the Environment,
Photo: Geir Østereng

Five of the realesed arctic foxes were blue morphed arctic fox,
Photo: Alfred Ørjebu


Twentytwo of the released arctic foxes were white morphed,
Photo: Geir Østereng




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