• Winter movements of Arctic foxes in Northern Alaska measured by satellite telemetry

      Pamperin, Nathan J.; Follman, Erich H.; Lindberg, Mark S.; Huettmann, Falk; Person, Brian (2008-12)
      We studied winter movements of 37 arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) collared within a petroleum development area at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (n = 20), and an undeveloped area in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A, n = 17) during the winters of 2004, 2005, and 2006 using satellite telemetry. Comparing Prudhoe Bay and NPR-A, differences in mean movement rates of juveniles was 23.9 ± 2.7 km per duty cycle and 10.6 ± 2.8 km per duty cycle for adults, and mean difference in maximum distance from capture site for juveniles was 265.2 ± 63.2 km and 205.5 ± 128.9 km for adults. Juveniles and adults collared in NPR-A were highly mobile and made long distance movements (up to 782 km) while foxes from Prudhoe Bay remained in or near the oil field throughout winter. Extensive use of sea-ice by three juvenile foxes from NPR-A was documented during the winter of 2005-2006. Three juvenile foxes traveled long distances (904, 1096, and 2757 km) during the winter and remained on the sea-ice for extended periods of time (76, 120, and 156 days). These findings verify the use of sea-ice by arctic foxes and raise concerns that the diminishing ice cover may negatively impact populations by limiting access to marine food sources. We conclude that the oilfields are having a strong effect on the winter movements of arctic fox and suggest differences in movements are likely attributable to the availability of anthropogenic foods at Prudhoe Bay.