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Arctic fox: 40 litters

Target

1.2 No species or habitat types will become extinct or be lost, and the status of threatened and near-threatened species and habitat types will be improved.

Indicator

Status of specific threatened species
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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

The Arctic fox has been strictly protected in Norway since 1930, but the population is still close to extinction. The species is classified as critically endangered on the 2015 Norwegian Red List for Species. An Arctic fox action plan was drawn up in 2003, and it has also been designated as a priority species under the Nature Diversity Act.

2009 was a particularly bad year for the Arctic fox in Norway, with no litters registered at all. The main reason was a lack of food because populations of lemmings and other small rodents crashed.

On the other hand, record numbers of litters were registered in both 2011 and 2014. In 2011, 40 litters were registered in all, and at least 270 pups were born. Just under half of the litters were born to females released into the wild as part of a captive breeding programme. In 2012 only one litter was born, but 2013 was a better year, with 24 registered litters. In 2014, 50 litters were registered, setting a new record. In 2013 and 2014, DNA analyses identified at least 125 adult Arctic foxes in mainland Norway.
2015 also represented a good breeding season for the Arctic fox in Norway. 40 litters were documented, and at least 204 cubs were born. In 2016 16 litters were documented, and at least 60 cubs were born. The decrease was related to low access of lemmings and other small rodents. In 2017, 40 litters and a minimum of 135 individuals were recorded.