Imbalance is increasing among Arctic foxes in the Hornstrandir nature reserve in the Westfjords. Generally speaking, the population of Arctic foxes is rather doing well on the peninsula, compared to other regions in Iceland.
Hornstrandir is a good dwelling for Arctic foxes
Ester Rut Unnsteinsdóttir, a mammalian ecologist, has just completed a three-week research trip to Hornstrandir, examining the conditions. Hornstrandir is the most remote part of Iceland, located north of the Westfjords. Since the 1950s no one has lived on the peninsula, including no available cellphone reception.
According to Ester, the general situation of the Arctic foxes in Hornstrandir is good, though the imbalance is increasing. Some foxes tend to develop well if located in good areas on the peninsula while other foxes’ health in other places is not as good.
“There are some foxes who have a good heritage and do not have to worry about anything, while others don’t have it as good. Their area lies on the border of the peninsula. They live in great distraction from other foxes and tourists passing through that area,” she explains. According to her, those different locations cause the different states of health in the nature reserve of Hornstrandir. Arctic foxes living in good areas tend to be larger and stop breastfeeding earlier from their mothers, while others closer to the borders are not as mature.
Protection of Arctic foxes has led to increase
Ester states that the overall fox population numbers around 9,000 to 10,000 foxes in all of Iceland. Though, since the Arctic fox was protected, the population in Hornstrandir has not increased. According to RÚV, certain stability occurs within the nature reserve, but greater fluctuations can be observed elsewhere in the country. Ester explains the fluctuations with natural processes affecting and limiting the Arctic fox population, such as winter.
She elucidates, “What is so remarkable is that I have examined the stock nationally and there had been a large increase from the historical minimum and especially after 1996 and 1997.” In the 1990s the arctic fox received protection status in Iceland.
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