Saturday, August 22, 2020

Why Arctic Foxes need wolverines, not waste

Just back from a wonderful wild camping holiday in Norway! A highlight was the stunning Hardangervidda National Park, home to Europe's largest herd of reindeer!



The area is also one of the most southerly strongholds for the beautiful Arctic Fox but they're not doing too well. Even in this wilder corner of Europe the loss of top predators including wolves, bears and wolverines seeps through the food chain like a wound that won't heel. 

The Arctic Foxes benefit hugely from carrion left after kills by these larger carnivores! Their absence makes it tougher to get through the icy winter. Meanwhile, walkers and climbers have edged higher up the slopes in recent years, bringing litter, food and access to Red Foxes able to out compete and even kill Arctic Foxes.

It's a familiar story of the importance of top predators to ecosystem health. The reintroduction of wolverines has been discussed, but sheep herders in particular remain resistant to this idea. It's a question of change and education, without which climate change will likely impact human and animal populations more significantly in this beautiful but weakened ecosystem! 


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