The Only Native Land Mammal to Iceland
In the fjord just east of Ísafjörður is an live fox named Frosti at the Arctic Fox Center in Súðavík . The Arctic Fox Center was close to brand new when we visited. It provides an education on the history of the Arctic Fox in the country as well as addresses cultural and traditional issues the people of the country and the Arctic Fox face in today's world. In this museum we were allowed to touch a lot of the displays but the one we could not touch, which was our favorite, was a live fox outside. He was really cute and played around a lot like our dog. The museum also has a gift shop and a little cafe and makes a nice stop for any visit to the Westfjords.
The Arctic Fox is the only land mammal native to Iceland. In other words, it was here before People settled Iceland. There are about 2000 left in Iceland today. It is a hunter of small prey, for example birds, as there has been an ample supply in the millions just at a single cliff in the Westfjords for longer than we know. Though looking at detailed records of bird colonies, one might see a decline in one area, you will also see a rise in another area, thus concluding that the few foxes left in Iceland would certainly not lead the birds into extinction. Remember, nature was balanced before People moved to Iceland.
As part of the culture or tradition, the arctic fox has been blamed for missing sheep or other farm animals and is considered a pest for farmers. In the past - and the recent past - there is money awarded by the government to people who hunt and kill them. Each area is required to have someone hired to do the hunting. Where I grew up we have foxes and we have hunting, so this is not at all intended as a judgmental statement in either direction; only a summary of what exits today. One of the goals of the Arctic Fox Center is to bring education about the foxes to the people so they can learn that the Arctic Fox is not the dangerous enemy, but a part of nature and part of the balance of the ecosystem in Iceland.
We saw Arctic Foxes twice more on the trip. The first one was spotted by Bill on shore while kayaking Seyðisfjörður and the last was while driving along Route 1 in the south. Each time was very exciting, but the one we saw while kayaking did not run off and we were able to watch it for a while. The one near the road in the south scurried away when it saw us. That one was a very dark black.
This page is unique on the site in that I am saying feel free to download any of the photos here for educational purposes or to help the Arctic Fox. I tend to ask on other pages on this site that people send us a quick email to ask about using our photos first (I do get paid for my photos on occasion and it helps support this site so we don't have advertisements), however in this case I consider this an opportunity to share all I can about this unique animal from Iceland and hope others can find good use of these photos.
Movie of Arctic Fox
We took a short movie of the arctic fox at the center. Because of loading time, we moved it from this page to the arctic fox video page to avoid problems with this page.