March 10th, 2010 by Carl
Here is a photo from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge I took one evening, around 1am. These red fox kits were playing just outside their den, and I spent quite a bit of time, patiently trying to get close enough to photograph them. These foxes were pretty wary, and if I approached too quickly they’d duck down into their den. The interconnected network of burrows meant they could, and would, popup anywhere, often 50-60 yards away a few minutes later.
Red foxes appear to be moving further and further north with the warming climate; longer summers and less harsh weather in the winters means they’re able to survive where previously they didn’t. The red fox is larger than their arctic cousins, the Arctic fox, and are (apparently) starting to cause quite a dent in the population of arctic fox, in some areas. Each year I’ve been to the coastal plain I have seen fewer arctic foxes than the year before, and seen more red foxes than previously.
Of course, both the species are cute, but it’s a shame to see the arctic fox, which is such an amazing survivor, threatened by this larger species. Arctic foxes can stand in temperatures down as low as minus 40degrees F, and exhibit no changes in their metabolism at all. That’s insane (the muskox does the same down to minus 70, but they’re MUCH larger body sized, and have incredibly long thick coats – they LOOK like they might be able to do something like that).
I’m hoping I can find this fox den again this summer when I visit the Refuge; I have a rough idea where it is, and maybe we’ll get lucky and find some new fox kits to photograph. If you’re interested in the ANWR trip, please contact me asap, as we have one space left at the moment. It’s always a treat to visit the Refuge, and I’m keen as mustard to get back there again. We travel by raft all the way from the Continental Divide in the Brooks Mountain range to the coast at the Beaufort Sea, and it’s simply a fantastic trip.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the red fox kits photo above.