Friday, 15 November, 2019

Arctic fox walks more than 2700 miles from Norway to Canada

The young female arctic fox covered an incredible distance The young female arctic fox covered an incredible distance
Patty Aguilar | 04 July, 2019, 04:33

During the walk to Canada, the roughly 2-year-old fox moved at an average rate of 28.7 miles per day, the Norwegian scientists said. In comparison the young fox was 1.4 times faster than the maximum rate of the previously recorded adult male Arctic fox monitored in Alaska.

The Norwegian Polar Institute says the young female fox left her birthplace on Norway's Svalbard archipelago on March 1, 2018 and reached Canada's Ellesmere Island by way of Greenland on July 1, 2018.

"We couldn't believe it was true", said researcher Eva Fuglei, who tracked the female fox.

Last week, researchers with the Norwegian Polar Institute published a paper detailing how an arctic fox they tagged past year made a stunning 2,743-mile journey from Norway to Canada - in just 76 days.

But the tagged fox followed by the Norwegian researchers suggest that this species regularly performs long-range migrations.

'We thought perhaps it was dead, or had been carried there on a boat, but there were no boats in the area. They freed her into the wild on the east cost of Spitsbergen, the main island of the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. "So we just had to keep up with what the fox did", Fuglei was quoted to Norway's NRK public broadcaster.

The researchers say the fox settled on Ellesmere Island, at least as far as they know: The tracker attached to the fox gave out in February this year.

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Nonetheless then, Fuglei acknowledged, they realized there aren't any boats that mosey to this point up into the ice. The animal crossed Greenland's ice sheet in a single day - traveling about 96 miles.

16 April "traveler" successfully reached Greenland, but did not stop there, and went to the island of Ellesmere in Canada, where he arrived on 1 July.

"This is another example of how important sea ice is to wildlife in the Arctic", Ola Elvestuen, Norway's Climate and Environment Minister, tells the Institute in a statement. They attributed the stopovers to possible bad weather, physical barriers on the sea ice, or a feeding opportunity.

A file photo of an Arctic fox.

The fox's Global Positioning System tracker stopped working in February this year and it is not known what happened to her after this point.

The study concluded that sea ice is vital to the species' ability to migrate to new areas, meet other populations and find food sources.

Since this "blue" Arctic fox literally switched from a nonlemming to a lemming ecosystem, the researchers suggested, "Our observation supports evidence of gene flow across Arctic regions, including those seasonally bridged by sea ice".

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