Sunday, 12 October 2008

Melting ice caps threaten arctic foxes

A recent study by researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks has found that arctic foxes may be just as threatened as polar bears by reduced access to sea ice. They tracked fourteen foxes as they endured their first arctic winter, and only three survived - by spending five months travelling for 3,000 miles across frozen sea ice and scavenging seal carcasses left by polar bears. None of the 11 foxes that remained on the mainland survived.

The researchers were surprised that the foxes spent so long on sea ice but concluded that their odessy is essential to find food to sustain them through the winter. Sea ice is expected to reach record low levels this winter, making it harder for the foxes to travel and potentially leading to lower survival rates. There is also the risk of increased conflict with humans, as the foxes search for food near settlements.