Foxes forced to fight it out in NT?

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Climate change may be forcing foxes of different species to fight it out in the Northwest Territories in the near future.

Parks Canada identified the risk of certain species moving northwards and competing with native species for habitat back in 2017. One of the species who may be moving north are red foxes.

According to Darren Campbell, spokesperson for the GNWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, studies have shown in Scandinavia the red fox can be more successful in some habitats than the Arctic fox.  

 

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Recent Grand Title Winners have encapsulated some vital stories about the changes our natural world is going through. From a distance, Don Gutoski could tell that the red fox was chasing something but it wasn’t until he got closer that he realised it was an Arctic fox. It took three hours in temperatures of –30 degrees Centigrade until the red fox picked up the eviscerated carcass and dragged it away to store it for later. Because of global warming, the range of red foxes is extending northwards and they are increasingly crossing paths with their smaller relatives becoming not just the Arctic fox’s main competitor but also their main predator. Few have been captured in such clarity, but this could become an increasingly common sight. The first virtual Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards ceremony is happening on 13 October 20:00 BST! Follow the link in our bio to find out how to watch the livestream and get involved and, if you’re in London, to book your tickets for this year’s #WPY56 exhibition at the Natural History Museum. Image: A tale of two foxes by Don Gutoski, Canada. Grand Title Winner 2015. #WPY #WPY56 #WPYAlumni #WildlifePhotographerOfTheYear #Wildlife #Biodiversity #Anthropocene #NaturePhotography #RedFox #ArcticFox #Canada #GlobalWarming #Endangered #WildlifePhotography #Conservation #NaturalHistory #NaturalHistoryMuseum #Instanature #London #OnlineEvent #London #HintzeHall

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“It is difficult to predict what will happen as red foxes move into Arctic fox habitat in NWT and Nunavut,” he said in an email. “Currently, the arctic fox is the only species of fox that has shown it can survive and thrive in our harsh northern landscapes, northern tundra and sea ice.”

However that may be changing.  

The website INaturalist.ca — which uses crowdsourced public animal sightings to track animal populations — has reported sightings of both red and Arctic foxes in Inuvik during the summer months.

Campbell said ENR relies on public sightings to keep track of population numbers, so can’t be sure of the exact number of either red or Arctic foxes.

Mammals and other species moving northward is one of the predicted outcomes of climate change,” said Campbell. 

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Arctic foxes’ populations already fluctuate year-to-year depending on the availability of food. Climate change may further impact food security for Arctic foxes and the extra competition from red foxes moving north could increase competition for food that may already be limited.

“These movements are happening now and will continue in the future,” added Campbell. “Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions will slow this phenomenon. But we will also need to adapt to species moving north.”

“ENR is developing an overall climate change adaptation strategy for wildlife management. Key actions, including possible mitigation,  will be included for many northern wildlife species.

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