The pups (white and blues) were from three different litters (7+5+2), and they were released on three different dens.
The weather conditions were perfect, and with three groups of people, all pups were released during a normal workday. The pups came from Oppdal by car, and were transported with snowmobile to the dens. All the dens have one or two feeding stations nearby, and they will be followed up by cameras in the feeding station, the baited cameras and chip readers +DNA from feces picked at the dens and feeding stations.
Pups released on the den. Photo: Jan Erik Knutsen
A total of 67 arctic foxes have been released over the last three years. All of them are raised in the captive station in Oppdal. Last year three breeding pairs was recorded, with a total of 19 (8+6+5) pups. Five of the six parents were captive bred, while the last one were a wild one new to Varangerhalvøya.
More about the fates of the previously released foxes and other results from the arctic fox module of COAT Varanger (in Norwegian) during the years 2017-2019 can be accessed here.
Now we keep our fingers crossed and hoping that the good winter conditions we had so far this winter will continue, giving hope for an increased lemming and small rodent population this summer.
Feeding station with camera. Photo: Jan Erik Knutsen