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Just over 20 years ago, the arctic fox was close to extinction in Sweden and Norway. Then there were only 40–60 individuals left. Since then, it has had a remarkable recovery and 2022 was a record year.
The inventory that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency recently made registered 164 new fox litters in 2022. In addition, 88 puppies became adults during the year. In total, the researchers estimate that there are now over 550 full grown arctic foxes in Sweden, Norway and Finland (which are now also included in the inventory).
There are several reasons for the arctic fox's strong recovery. One is that there has been a good supply of the arctic fox's main food, small rodents. Since then, conservation measures such as supplementary feeding and shooting of competing red foxes have also yielded results.
"In the last 20 years, it is a record year. It looks like the extensive measures that have been taken to preserve the arctic fox continue to yield results," says Malin Åhl, wildlife officer at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, in a press release.
The researchers now hope that the conservation measures will continue to yield results and further strengthen the arctic fox population.
"It's fun to see that all the work that everyone involved is doing is paying off, or in this case, litters. As for this year's record, it is two more litters than the previous record. Even more fun than the Swedish record is the rejuvenation in Finland, the first since 1996 and hopefully the start of a continued re-establishment in Finland. Within the project, we now continue to conduct research on ecology, genetics and conservation and look to the future with confidence with recently received research grants", says Johan Wallén, researcher in zoology at Stockholm University and one of the researchers behind the inventory.
Photo: Swedish arctic fox project/Hjalmar Stake