Persistent efforts can save the arctic fox
More food and fewer red foxes – this is the basic plan for saving the arctic fox. In Sweden, preservation efforts are directed by the county administrative boards. The county of Jämtland currently offers the best conditions for the arctic fox thanks to its EU-funded cross-border initiative with Norway, Felles Fjellrev. Unfortunately the conditions are not as promising in the county of Norrbotten, where there is a risk that this official animal of Lapland will completely disappear.
The most important measures taken in the fight to save the arctic fox have proven to be the supplemental food supplies set out in the summer and winter together with population control of the red fox.
“In addition, it is necessary to mix the litters during good years in order to reduce the risk of inbreeding," says Professor Anders Angerbjörn, arctic fox expert and one of the driving forces behind several of the arctic fox projects that have been implemented during the last 25 years. This mixing of litters is also taking place in a Norwegian programme run by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, NINA.
The above measures are also the main action points in the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's programmes for the preservation of the arctic fox, which are implemented by the county administrative boards. The intensity of the efforts varies across the country but there is, unfortunately, a constant shortage of funding.
Norwegian-Swedish cooperation increases the arctic fox’s chances
Felles Fjellrev is a cross-border initiative in the county of Jämtland in Sweden and Tröndelag in Norway. The aim is to develop a shared model for the protection of the Norwegian-Swedish arctic fox. Half the project is funded by EU/InterReg and it therefore has relatively strong chances for implementing protective measures. Important sponsors, and responsible for the project, are the Jämtland County Administrative Board and the Directorate for Nature Management in Norway, NINA. Stockholm University and NINA are also involved in the project. The four-year project started in the spring of 2010 and has the general objective of transforming the mountain environment in Tröndelag and Jämtland County into Scandinavia's premier territory for arctic fox.
Research increases knowledge
In addition to the preservation efforts, research is also being conducted about the arctic fox, for example at the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University. The objective of the research is to improve existing knowledge about the situation of the arctic fox and activities include field studies and DNA collection to map the genetic variation within the population. These studies are funded by, among others, the World Wildlife Fund, WWF, and private donations – for example from Fjällräven and our sister company Naturkompaniet.