Foxes on the Edge with the Arctic Documentary Project

Posted Nov. 3rd, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

Foxes on the Edge with the Arctic Documentary Project

I’m writing this from Churchill, Manitoba on the shores of Hudson Bay. It’s been four years since I was last here. As many of you know I’m no longer guiding for Frontiers North Adventures, but we’re still heavily involved together. I’m in Churchill this year helping my friends at Polar Bears International, and it’s through their connections that I’m still involved with Frontiers North. Without Frontiers North, PBI would have no way to do any work in this part of the world. So Thank You Frontiers North Adventures. We’re more than extremely grateful.

Foxes on the Edge with the Arctic Documentary Project

A very dark—nearly totally black—red fox sits on a rock guarding the carcass of an Arctic fox. Gordon Point, near Churchill, Manitoba. Lumix GH5 with Leica 100-400mm

Yesterday, I was with a Frontiers North group they call Conservation Journey. We spent the day on a Tundra Buggy that included 20 passengers along with myself and PBI’s Executive Director Krista Wright. Part of our give back to our FNA friends is to offer the services of myself and other PBI staff including our two polar bear biologists Geoff York and Steve Amstrup. It’s a great way to help the guests become better informed on the issues facing polar bears, and I get to spread propaganda and misinformation about photography. What could be more fun?

All jokes aside, yesterday we encountered an amazing situation where we found a very dark—nearly black—colored red fox. Yes, red foxes are not always red. This red fox was reported to be guarding a kill, and we were told the prey was its smaller cousin, the Arctic fox. Years ago, actually in the late 90’s to be semi-exact, I started seeing red fox here in the Churchill area for the first time. It was exciting to see them since for all the years prior I would only see the beautiful, much smaller, Arctic fox. So seeing the gorgeous red was a special event. Little did I know that over time the tables would switch. Today we see very few Arctic foxes, and on this day, the one we did see was lying motionless on the Arctic tundra, its carcass being guarded by the much larger, dominant red fox.

I shot some photos that are tough to look at, but they do tell the story of just one of the many changes happening in this sub-Arctic environment. Quite simply, red fox are moving into the habitat once inhabited mainly by the smaller, Arctic fox. Here on the shores of Hudson Bay, two worlds are colliding and for the smaller Arctic fox, it’s world is shrinking. The video I put together gives a little more info about this difficult day on the tundra.

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There are 10 comments on this post…
  1. Deanna EisingerOn Feb. 1st, 2018

    Just finished reading a book on conservation: “Wild Ones” by Jon Mooallem. Detailed three species, one of which was the Polar Bear. It certainly presented a different way of looking at conservation efforts. As in the book, I want to be a part of
    the generation of humans that at least tried. The possibility of actually returning a species to its former status seems bleak indeed. But anyway asome of us try.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 3rd, 2018

      Deanna, thanks for sharing info about “Wild Ones”. I’ll take a look. Always great to hear from our readers.

  2. Kay RangnekarOn Nov. 6th, 2017

    Most amazing experience on the Polar Bear conservation journey and so lucky to have Dan on our buggy. Learnt a lot from him about histograms. Oh yeah! We have named it Histodans!! I was there exactly when he shot that fox.
    Thanks Dan and hope to share an adventure with you in the future.
    Kay and Nick

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 6th, 2017

      Thanks for the kind words Kay. It was great traveling with you and your fellow travelers. Thanks for stopping by the blog to join the conversation and keep up the good work with you historgrams?

  3. Paula JonesOn Nov. 6th, 2017

    This came through this morning and seldom have time to stop and talk but took a look at it and thank you Dan. Beautiful images.
    and a warm and empathetic commentary. Here at the bottom of the world the Antarctic is changing too.

  4. Julie MartensOn Nov. 5th, 2017

    Dan — thanks for the interesting video and commentary. Great pics as always. See you soon!

  5. Al CarrOn Nov. 4th, 2017

    How often are you lucky enough to be in that area? You are a lucky guy.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 4th, 2017

      Being in the right place is just one part Al and yes I was lucky to be here. However, being able to quickly move out onto the back deck of the Tundra Buggy due to my smaller lighter camera system was the biggest piece of luck I had going for me. I shot this with the Lumix GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm which I had extended out to the 800mm range. Never in the day of my Nikons could I have navigated to the right spot so quickly. I would have had to be shooting the 600mm F/4 to get even close to the same view but getting a twelve-pound lens into position quickly is not easy to do. Quite simply my new lightweight system makes me feel like a Photo Ninja?

  6. IvanOn Nov. 4th, 2017

    As a wildlife biologist and photography/documentary lover, I find this kind of reporting very interesting. It’s a fascinating topic, and from a photography prospective, the contrast of the red foxes with the white snow creates a very strong and essentially self-explanatory image.

    Thank you for sharing this

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 4th, 2017

      Thanks for your input Ivan. Some of these real-life events are not easy to watch but this particular one is just a single example of the reality of a changing planet.

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