I have this stack of magazines in my house that I’ve been meaning to get to for a year or more, most of them for this blog. The oldest one, the November-December 2007 issue of Audubon, had an alarmist article about the Arctic and what will happen to the species there (“Global Warming/SOS”).
Now I personally happen to believe that the Arctic is warming the fastest of any place on the planet and that the animals that depend on summer ice are going to have a very hard time of it in the coming years. Nevertheless, I don’t agree with the idea that all animals in the Arctic are screwed, as one person is quoted as saying in the article.
One of those animals is the Arctic fox, whose range is apparently being invaded by the red fox. In the last few years, scientists have noted at least one killing of an Arctic fox by a red fox. Although that one killing, like any particular weather event, cannot be directly tied to global warming, they thought it was worth a little fretting.
The red fox is larger than the Arctic fox, and it has been moving north in the last two decades. If the red fox continues to invade the territory of the Arctic fox, the former will outcompete the latter and, possibly, drive it to extinction in the long run.
Of course, that’s a lot of speculation. Arctic foxes will no doubt find some way to adapt. But will the species as a whole be able to adapt enough to survive?
If not, the only real solution will be for humans to do what they can to reduce the northward migration of red foxes, including killing them.
It sounds brutal. But if it’s the only way to save the Arctic fox sometime in the future, then I say we go for it.
One organization that has a mission along the lines I mention above, but with a focus on islands, is Island Conservation.