Critically Endangered Arctic Foxes Successfully Breeding After Decades

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images/Vinchel Budihardjo

For over two decades now Artic foxes have not been breeding in Finland. However, this is all changing now as the results of regular efforts are beginning to pay off leading to recently successful breeding. It was just this summer when inspections in Artic fox nests revealed the wildlife species has been breeding successfully within the Enontekiö mountains in Northern Lapland in Finland. And now, scientists have discovered three pups have been born to an Artic fox couple as a result of the breeding programs.

”The results of long-term conservation work over the past 20 years are now becoming visible,” notes Tuomo Ollila, one of the specialists working on the project.

“This is not the finish line,” Ollila continues. “But good progress.”

It’s Been 25 Years Since The Arctic Fox Had Successfully Bred In Finland

This is the first time in 25 years that Arctic foxes have displayed successful breeding in Finland. The last confirmed instance of Arctic fox breeding took place in 1996 in Utsjoki.

“It is unique to see the return of a species that has disappeared from Finland’s breeding species for decades,” notes one expert working with the programs.

“What is even more surprising, is that it returns at a time like this when climate change is progressing in the northern regions even faster than anticipated,” the statement continues. “Global warming and its consequences are the greatest threat to the Arctic fox, in the long term.”

A Key Food Source For The Animals Have Disappeared Over The Years

Scientists believe there are a few core factors that led to the halt in breeding and the growth of the Artic fox population in this region over the years. One is simply a lack of food options available…at least for a period of time. According to experts, the vole populations have been fluctuating for some time, specifically in the 1990s. These voles are the main source of food for the foxes. However, these vole populations returned to the area in 2007 giving new strength to the hopes of growing the arctic fox populations.

“In the past, fairly regular vole population cycles disappeared from our mountainous areas,” experts explain.

“For an unknown reason after the mid-1980s, but returned, at least for the time being, since 2007,” the statements note. “Lemmings and voles are key species in the fell area and also the main source of food for the Arctic fox.”

It isn’t yet known whether or not the male and female Arctic foxes are part of a larger breeding group of foxes that continue to be part of the efforts. However, DNA samples have been collected in hopes of determining from where the mom and dad originated.