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Home* News and Stories → Lice found in fur of arctic foxes

Lice found in fur of arctic foxes

An alarming discovery: lice have been found in the fur of arctic foxes. So far, arctic foxes were generally found to be free of lice, both on the Scandinavian mainland and in Spitsbergen.

Arctic fox: lice detected

Arctic fox with winter fur in good order. The fur can be affected by lice to a degree that it does not insulate anymore sufficiently.

A taxidermist became sceptical when he saw fur from Arctic foxes from Spitsbergen, which had been caught a year ago. The fur was visibly affected in the neck area, with less hair than normal, and small animals were visible in the fur. These were later identified as lice by a specialist in Tromsø, as was now reported by Svalbardposten.

The foxes in question were caught a year ago in Bødalen and Colesdalen, both south of Longyearbyen. Now, all local fox hunters are encouraged to keep their eyes open. Should lice indeed be about to get established in arctic foxes, then the consequences might be dramatic, as foxes need an intact fur to cope with the cold of the arctic winter.

But the first thing that needs to be coped with is a huge gap of scientific knowledge. The annual fox-hunt is currently ongoing in Spitsbergen. Foxes are still hunted by a very few professional trappers and by leisure hunters. There are 25 areas for fox hunting in Spitsbergen, thereof 23 in Nordenskiöld Land (Longyearbyen’s wide surroundings) and 2 in the area of Ny-Ålesund.

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last modification: 2020-11-10 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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