Five years ago, on the 2 September 2008, I went along when a group of scientists and enthusiasts carried five puppies of arctic fox to Sylane, some high mountains between Norway and Sweden. The day was freezingly cold with snow in the air, which is quite normal in this altitude. Anyway, everybody involved were happy and excited. The arctic fox was acutely endangered on the Scandinavian mainland, and this was part of a plan to save the species.
In 2005, the arctic fox population in Norway was estimated to be only 50 adult animals. The species were critically endangered with a great risk that it would disappear from our nature. That year started a project to save our polar fox. Puppies were taken from the wild for controlled breeding. I must say I was a bit sceptical, like some conservationist. To take some of the very few remaining foxes sounded risky. But they breeded well and this day I was attending one of the early releases of animals.
Before the white foxes were carried to the high mountains they had to get microchips for later identification (they already had earmarks), and they also got a collar who would transmit signals for scientists and nature management. The animals were blindfolded during this operation to keep calm, and they worked very fast not to disturb the animals more than necessary.
After some hours walk the five arctic foxes were released in an artificial den. They also got supplies of food (dog food) as they were used too. Both to help them survive as they now had to fend for themselves. In the picture, Olav Nyrønning, leder of a local group of arctic fox volunteers, and scientist Arild Landa.
The project seems to have been a success. Foxes have been released in many mountain areas the last years and they breed in the wild. Now the population is estimated to be nearly 140 animals, more than doubled since 2005. There are more pictures in my arctic fox photo galleries.