The arctic for Alopex lagopus was an important fur animal in Fennoscandia until the 1920s when numbers crashed, and in spite of total protection for over half a century has not recovered and is now regarded as vulnerable.
In Iceland, on the other hand, the species is well established and can withstand heavy exploitation by man, being regarded as vermin and hunted at all seasons.
In this paper we review the latest available information on the status of the arctic fox in the Nordic countries, both with regard to minimum sizes and fluctuations in population, and various factors which have been suggested as the cause of the non-recovery of the population in Fennoscandia. These include fewer available large mammal carcasses due to the near-disappearance of the wolf, increased competition with the red fox, increased predation by red foxes on arctic foxes, etc.
The views that arctic foxes are an important predator on sheep in Iceland at present, and that foxhunting alone in its present form is capable of significantly reducing the population there, are challenged.
At present there is insufficient information to make sound management programmes for the arctic fox populations in Fennoscandia and Iceland. Suggestions are made concerning those factors which need to be explored so that workable management programmes can be put into effect in the two regions.
1989. Vol. 49, no 1, 67-81 p.