An incredible journey: Arctic fox walks over 3,500 km from Norway to Canada
Reached Ellesmere Island via Greenland months after setting out from Svalbard archipelago
An Arctic fox walked more than 3,500 kilometres to go from northern Norway to Canada's North in four months, Norwegian researchers said.
The Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research reported the young female fox left her birthplace on Norway's Svalbard archipelago in March 2018, and reached Canada's Ellesmere Island by way of Greenland on July 1, 2018.
The ground the small fox cumulatively covered over those four months was among the most ever recorded for an Arctic fox seeking a place to settle down and breed, the institute said in a research article titled "Arctic fox dispersal from Svalbard to Canada: one female's long run across sea ice."
Institute scientists monitored the fox's movements with a satellite tracking device they fitted her with in July 2017 near her native habitat by a glacier on Norway's Spitsbergen island. She stayed close to home then gradually ventured out until she left the island on March 26, 2018.
Though her journey covered a distance of 3,506 kilometres end-to-end, the fox was tracked walking a total distance of 4,415 kilometres, researchers said.
During the walk to Canada, the roughly one-year-old fox moved at an average rate of 46.3 kilometres per day.
"The short span of time spent covering such a distance highlights the exceptional movement capacity of this small-sized carnivore species," they said.
The distance between the fox's natal den and where she settled on Ellesmere Island was 1,789 kilometres if traveled in a straight line, according to the institute.
The sea ice allows Norway's arctic foxes to reach Greenland and then North America, though it's not known why they leave their birth places in search of places to breed, the researchers said.
The animals, which have thick fur to survive cold environments and live to about age four, subsist on fish, marine birds and lemmings.