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Alaska Red Fox picture and information

Alaska Red Fox picture and informationThe red fox (Vulpes kenaiensis) of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, and the adjacent mainland is probably the largest of its kind in the world, although those of Kodiak Island and of the Mackenzie River valley are nearly as large. Compared with its relatives of the United States, the Kenai fox is a giant, with heavier, duller-colored coat and a huge tail, more like that of a wolf than of a fox. The spruce and birch forests of Alaska and the Mackenzie Valley are apparently peculiarly adapted to red foxes, as shown by the development there of these animals good illustrations of the relative increase in size and vigor of animals in a specially favorable environment.

As noted in the general account of the red foxes, the occurrence of the black phase is sporadic, and the relative number of dark individuals varies greatly in different parts of their range. The region about the upper Yukon and its tributaries and the Mackenzie River basin are noted for the number of black foxes produced, apparently a decidedly greater proportion than 111 any other similarly large area.

Like other red foxes, the Alaskan species digs its burrows, with several entrances, in some dry secluded spot, where both male and female share in the care of the young. In northern wilds the food problem differs from that in a settled country. There the surrounding wild life is the only dependence, and varying hares, lemmings, and other mice are usually to be had by the possessor of a keen scent and an active body. In summer many nesting wild-fowl and their young are easy prey, while heathberries and other northern fruits are also available.

Winter brings a season of scarcity, when life requires the exercise of every trained faculty. The snow-white ptarmigan is then a prize to be gained only by the most skillful stalking, and the white hare is almost equally difficult to secure. At this season foxes wander many miles each day, their erratic tracks in the snow telling the tale of their industrious search for prey in every likely spot. It is in this season of insistent hunger that many of them fall victims to the wiles of trappers or to the unscrupulous hunter who scatters poisoned baits.

Fortunately the season for trapping these and other fur-bearers in Alaska is limited by law and the use of poisons is forbidden. These measures will aid in preserving one of the valuable natural assets of these northern wilds.