How Do Humans Affect the Arctic Fox?

Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Arctic foxes (Alopex or Vulpes lagopus) are robust creatures who live in chilly arctic environments from Alaska and Canada all the way to Norway and Finland. Although their rugged stomping grounds don't always allow for the simplest of lifestyles, arctic foxes on the whole are capable of managing in tough circumstances, even with occasional human disruptions.

Arctic Fox Basics

Mature arctic foxes generally weigh between 6.5 and 21 pounds. The males of the species are usually bigger. They usually are between 2.3 and 3.5 feet long, not including their tails, which are usually around a foot long. Arctic foxes typically are between 9 inches and 1 foot tall, when measured from the shoulder area. Their coats are white, sometimes with a subtle hint of blue. This conveniently allows them to stay inconspicuous amidst their wintry backdrops. Arctic foxes in the wild usually survive for about three years, although some individuals occasionally live to 10 years. They are omnivores, munching on everything from lemmings and fish to berries.

Population

Arctic foxes aren't endangered. They are believed to have relatively strong and consistent numbers throughout the bulk of their geographic scope. Certain areas do have smaller numbers of specimens, however, including the Pribilof Islands by Alaska and the Commander Islands of Russia, specifically Mednyi Island. In spite of the lack of endangerment of the species, humans do affect arctic foxes' survival in several ways.

Hunting for Fur and Flesh

People affect arctic foxes by hunting them. Fur hunting of arctic foxes has gone down in recent years, however, likely because of market factors. Though fur hunting has decreased, many arctic foxes still reside on fur farms. Arctic foxes on fur farms are frequently specially bred to be different than their free roaming counterparts, and as a result are often bigger. Arctic foxes are not only hunted for their fur. Indigenous groups sometimes even consider arctic foxes to be game animals, using their meat in food preparation.

Nuisances

Farmers in Iceland often consider to arctic foxes to be nuisances and serious risks to their ducks and sheep, which they occasionally seize and dine on. Arctic foxes are frequently hunted in Iceland for that reason.

Other Problems for Arctic Foxes

Humans aren't the only beings that affect the population of arctic foxes. Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) routinely go after the youngsters of the arctic fox species. In general, red foxes are bigger than arctic foxes, with a more fierce temperament. Red foxes also are major sustenance rivals to arctic foxes. Wolves and bears also sometimes feed on arctic foxes.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images