LAPLAND :: FINLAND
In the summer of 2022, volunteers patrolling for Arctic fox dens spotted a welcome surprise. Three pups, covered in grayish-brown fur, peered out at them from a lush patch of grass on an otherwise barren tundra. Their mom, in her brown coat, sat close by.
That discovery represented a conservation milestone: It was the first confirmation in over 25 years that these small foxes were breeding in Finland, where the species is listed as critically endangered.
Petteri Tolvanen, WWF-Finland’s program director of Finnish biodiversity, says that with recent Arctic fox population increases in Sweden and Norway, his team anticipated breeding in Finland too, but not necessarily so soon because the small rodents the foxes feed on were scarce during last summer’s breeding season.
To aid the compact carnivores’ recovery, WWF’s Arctic fox working group has supported National Parks Finland in establishing supplemental feeding stations. In addition, National Parks Finland has been managing the thriving red fox population through culling, to curb their competition for the food and breeding sites of the Arctic fox.
“We were thrilled to see that this long-term goal had already come true,” Tolvanen says. “It gives me hope and confidence that we can help endangered species with persistent long-term conservation actions.”