Mountain fox back from brink

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16:36 CEST+02:00
Conservation efforts to save Norway’s endangered mountain fox may be bringing the species back from the edge of extinction, judging by an explosion of births in the past year.

Norwegian environment minister Erik Solheim reported 271 pups — or 200 more than last year — survived into the summer.

The fox is famous for its changing, seasonal pelt — grey in spring and white in summer — and for its mountain dens. An explosion in the lemming population brought about by the fox’s earlier population crash may have yielded the retreat from extinction.

Not since 1993 had a wild litter been reported, and extinction was all but announced for the species in the late 90’s. Seventy years of “protection” brought no results.

Rescue came in 2005, when a breeding station in Oppdal, Norway began collecting the muscular mountain hunter from across the country. Six years saw 200 pups born under close protection, but most of the 271 born in 2001 were born free.

“We have learned from American experience,” a beaming Solheim said.

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“Now it seems we’ve done it.”

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