The situation is critical for mountain foxes at Varanger Peninsula National Park in Finnmark. The Norwegian Environmental Protection Agency is implementing a crisis plan and released 29 puppies in the area.
In the country as a whole, 2017 was a disaster for mountain foxes, which are classified as critically endangered species. 40 litters and at least 135 individuals were documented in Norway, against 16 litters the year before, the Environment Directorate stated.
But far north, it looks ominous for mountain foxes.
‘Despite intensive follow-up, only two mountain foxes were recorded on Varanger Peninsula, and three years ago, a puppy litter was born there’, reported the directorate.
Set out 29 puppies
The gloomy figures appear in the report “Mountain foxes (Fjellrev) in Norway 2017’, which the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) have made on behalf of the directorate. The development concerns the experts.
‘We put out 29 puppies from the breeding station for mountain foxes on Varanger Peninsula, this winter. In addition, we start to support them with feeding, and continue over the next few years’, said Yngve Svarte, Director of the Environment Directorate.
For many years, the University of Tromsø has followed the mountain fox stock in Finnmark. It was assumed that mountain foxes were threatened by the physically superior red-foxes. Therefore, since 2005, the Norwegian National Inspectorate and local hunters have shot 2,700 red foxes in the area, without the stock being numbers being raised.
‘This is probably due to poor access to rodents,’ said the Norwegian Environmental Directorate.
In 2011, which was a peak year, a total of 20 mountain foxes were recorded on Varanger Peninsula, but after this the only registry is a litter of two puppies.
The next lemming peak is expected to be, at the earliest, in 2019, and therefore it is likely that mountain foxes could die out on Varanger Peninsula.
The situation seems to be equally critical for larger parts of Finnmark, and in areas in Finland and Sweden bordering Norway, said Svarte.
In southern Norway the foxes are greater this year than last year. This year’s litter is relatively similar to that in 2016, with most in Dovrefjell.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today