In the first week of February, a small team from COAT and local experts Alfred Ørjebu and John Arne Kristiansen placed 3 wooden box traps designed for live trapping red foxes in southeastern Varanger peninsula. The effort is part of a new research project that attempts to deploy GPS collars on red foxes to investigate their movement behavior as part of the COAT Arctic Fox module
Top left; the first trap, left near a willow thicket used frequently by red foxes, and monitored with a live camera that sends pictures over email. Top right; moving the heavy 4 meter long traps was a logistical challenge. Bottom left; one of the traps was prefabricated by Alfred, and assembled on-site. Bottom right; so far, the only interested visitor is this dog.
Red foxes, as generalist predators from the boreal zone, play an important role in many of the food webs researched in the COAT modules. Researching the movement behavior and habitat use of red foxes will therefore help to understand how this boreal predator affects arctic ecosystems under climate change. The first big challenge is to trap the smart and elusive red foxes alive. This is why the knowledge of local hunters is indispensable. The 3 big traps were placed in areas that are used frequently by red foxes, and pre-baited with dogfood and dry fish. COAT researchers will return to Varanger to arm the traps as soon as live cameras show interested red foxes in the area.