Large areas of arctic fox habitat in northern Alaska have recently experienced intensive petroleum exploration and development activities. The arctic fox is trapped extensively for its fur and for population control.
Arctic foxes are susceptible to rabies and can transmit this disease to humans.
The range of the arctic fox includes northern and western Alaska, northern Canada, Russia, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland. A few records indicate presence farther south. The number of arctic foxes is influenced by the great fluctuations of the lemming population as it is dependent upon the lemming population for the major portion of their diet.
Other language names: French: Reynard polaire, Isatis. German: Polarfuchs.
In North America, 37,000 arctic foxes were taken for skins between 1977-1978. In Iceland, government-sponsored hunting is used to control population levels. In the past an average of 900 foxes have been killed per year from a population of approximately 2,000 adults. Pelts are of poor quality and are unmarketable; the program costs approximately $200,000 per annum. In Iceland, a law was passed in 1957 stipulating that the state would pay two-thirds of all costs of an extermination campaign on the arctic fox. This law is currently under review.
In Canada, the beautiful and valuable pelt of the arctic fox is an important source of income for northern native people. In the past 50 years, the annual harvest of white foxes in Alaska has ranged from a high of nearly 17,000 in 1925 to a low of 500 in 1956. The average is about 4,000 pelts per year.