The life of an Arctic Fox researcher

There’s a phrase we love here at Fjällräven, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. But sometimes, even we have to admit, this can really be put to the test. And when Stockholm University’s Arctic Fox research team headed out into Sweden’s snowy wilderness over Easter, they probably would’ve had a few things to say about this statement too.

Skiiers in the mountains

Sweden is known for its predictably unpredictable April weather, but Rasmus, Malin and Dick weren’t quite expecting a storm with battering winds and sideways snowfall. But when needs must, you have to just get on with the job, no matter what. They were in the area around Helags Mountain Station setting up camera and microphone equipment for their different Masters and Doctoral theses, researching different aspects of the lives of Arctic Foxes. And, despite the best efforts of the storm, they managed to set up the necessary equipment in such a way that they should survive another storm or two and even the odd bite-prone Arctic Fox.

After their whirlwind expedition we checked in with them and photographer, Håkan Wike, for a short update on the whole experience.

Skiing in the snow
Doing research on arctic foxes
Cabin in snowstorm

"There were storm winds of over 30m per second (67mph) on the first night," explains Rasmus. "So it was really important to choose a route that meant we'd get as much done as possible, in as short a time as possible."

Rasmus, Malin and Dick had to get a little creative with how they set up the camera and microphone equipment, partly because storms in this area are common. But also because the curious little Arctic Foxes are rather partial to a bit of microphone and camera.

Set up of microphone equipment to track the arctic foxes

"The microphones have 'bite-friendly ears' that we have to protect from the foxes. So we tried a few different variations, but eventually came up with a protective cage we were pretty happy with: two dish drying racks secured together with a few cable ties."

Doing research on arctic foxes
Doing research on arctic foxes

Despite their thick coats, Arctic Foxes aren't actually too fond of this kind of bad weather. Cold is one thing, but gale-force winds and snow are quite another. So Rasmus, Malin and Dick didn't get to actually see any foxes on this trip. However, they set up all the planned camera and microphone equipment and even collected some fur and urine samples for further testing back in Stockholm.

Now Rasmus, Malin and Dick must wait. Wait to see what the cameras and microphones dig up.

Images: Håkan Wike


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