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[This information was originally produced by Beverly Skinner, wildlife biologist at Innoko
National Wildlife Refuge (in west central Alaska), for radio broadcast on Public Radio stations
Although primarily active at night, red foxes are sometimes spotted out and about during
the day. I have seen foxes along the Kuskokwim River from our boat and have even seen them
in our yard here in McGrath. A few years back, they were very common here in McGrath and one
particular red fox spent several days around the McGrath school yard, much to the delight of
The red fox is extremely adaptable and is well known for its intelligence. It is found
throughout interior Alaska and is in fact common throughout North America and Europe. In
the early 1900s when fox fur was fashionable, fox farms spread throughout Alaska, and
red foxes were introduced on many of Alaska's islands, too.
Red foxes are members of the dog family and are distant relatives to wolves, coyotes and
dogs. They have long, soft fur, long sharp noses, ears that stand up and long bushy
tails. As their name implies, red foxes are generally reddish in color with a white-tipped
tail and black leg stockings, but fur colors can actually vary from yellowish to deep red.
Red foxes also have several distinct color patterns such as cross, silver or black. They
are generally 3 to 4 feet long including their tail, and stand 16 to 18 inches high at the shoulder.
They can weigh anywhere from 6 to 15 pounds. Because of their bushy coat, red foxes usually
appear much larger than they really are.
Red foxes either steal and enlarge other ground dwellers' dens or they dig their own
multi-entrance dens in the ground. There tunnels range from 15 to 20 feet long.
Red foxes breed during the late winter and
early spring months of February and March, and the young foxes or kits are born 53 days
later. The average litter size is only four kits, although larger litters are commonly
found. Both parents care for the kits until fall when the family breaks up and each
animal goes on its own until the following spring mating period.
Very much like humans, red foxes are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and
animal matter but, unlike humans, red foxes seem to prefer voles as their food of choice.
Red foxes cache excess food during good hunting times along their trails so they
can find and dig up this food when hunting is poor. They also follow the trails of other
animals, such as wolverines, who cache food, and will take full advantage of a free meal.
For Alaska Naturally and the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge, this is Beverly Skinner. With
winter on its way, interior
Alaska's animals are getting ready for the cold weather. One way red foxes are able
to adapt to the extremes of cold is to increase the thickness of their underfur. There
are many days in January when I wish I could do that, too.
Note: This is the MapCruzin.com archive of the FWS Arctic National Wildlife Refuge website. In December, 2001 FWS took this website offline, making it unavailable to the public. It includes 90 plus pages of information and many maps. As of 2006 the important information contained in this, the original "unsanitized" version of the FWS website, has yet to return to the internet, so we will continue to maintain it here as a permanent archive to help inform activists and concerned citizens. If you find any broken links, please report them to me at [email protected] and I will attempt to make the repairs. January, 2008 update - A small part of the original information that was present in 2001 has made it back into the current ANWR website. There is also an archive that contains a small amount of the original information, but it is not readily available from the main website.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2001. Potential impacts of proposed oil and gas
development on the Arctic Refuge’s
coastal plain: Historical overview and
issues of concern. Web page of the Arctic National
17 January 2001. http://arctic.fws.gov/issues1.html
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