Expansion of the geographical distribution of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) into the far north tundra region may lead to competition between arctic (Alopex lagopus) and red foxes for space and resources. Behavioral interactions between red and arctic foxes were evaluated during 9 trials conducted in a 4.05-ha enclosure near Woodworth, North Dakota. Each trial consisted of introducing a male-female pair of arctic foxes into the enclosure and allowing them to acclimate for approximately a week before releasing a female red fox into the enclosure, followed by her mate a few days later. In 8 of 9 trials, red foxes were dominant over arctic foxes during encounters. Activity of the arctic foxes decreased upon addition of red foxes. Arctic foxes tried unsuccessfully to defend preferred den, resting, and feeding areas. Even though the outcome of competition between red and arctic foxes in the Arctic is uncertain, the more aggressive red fox can dominate arctic foxes in direct competition for den sites and other limited resources.
Additional publication details
Behavioral interactions of penned red and arctic foxes