fox nr. 10.000 in Páll´s study !
Arctic foxes have been legally hunted in Iceland since the early settlement during the 10th century. Monitoring of Icelandic arctic foxes has been conducted since 1979 when Páll Hersteinsson, then a graduate student (PhD) in biology, sent letters to 200 foxhunters and asked them to send him lower jaws from their kill so that he could determine the age by analysing the canine teeth. In 1985 he began more detailed study and asked for the whole carcasses for autopsy and measurements.
The monitoring has been ongoing ever since and it was Professor Hersteinsson who was responsible for the study until he passed away 13. 10. 2011. Since then, Ester Rut Unnsteinsdottir, Pall´s student and the director of The Arctic Fox Centre has continued the monitoring, now on the behalf of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History in collaboration with The Arctic Fox Centre.
Today, 14. 11. 2103 was special for the project since a fox number 10.000 in the series was dissected. Ester was alone during this event but felt like sharing the moment with others. The fox nr. 10.000 was a white male, killed in South-Iceland on the 3th of November this year. He weighed 3,9 kilos and was in a considerably normal body conduction, with RFT 2mm and beginning to get thick white winterfur.
By digging into the old data, we found that fox nr. 1 in the series was a two year old blue male, killed in the Northwest Iceland 13th of March 1979. The foxes from this year and 2012 have not yet been aged but that is in a good process. The population estimates of Icelandic foxes rely on getting samples from legally hunted individuals from all regions in the country. The hunters do not get any special payments for their contribution but we are thankful to the foxes and the hunters who have donated in order to get enough information for the population estimates.
Today, the Icelandic population is >10.000 individuals in the fall, including cubs born in the previous summer (regarded adults in September when appr. 4 months old). The population has been growing since the early 1970´s when it was below 1.000 individuals.