Commander Islands – 1996 expedition

Elena Kruchenkova

The project analysed the use of fur seal rookeries by arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) and assessed the conservation of relict Alopex populations on Mednyi and Bering Islands, in the Commander Islands, North Pacific. On Mednyi, foxes were concentrated around the South-east Rookery, but this was not due to use of the rookery as a food source. In the North Rookery area of Bering Island, however, seals provided a higher proportion of the diet in foxes nearer to the rookery. The team suggests that this difference is due to the loss of food-finding techniques by the Mednyi foxes. The team concluded that fox densities on Mednyi were low away from the well-visited south-east area; that the introduction of dogs to Mednyi should be carefully controlled; and that more stringent protection should be afforded to the south-east of Mednyi, which lies in the reserve buffer zone.

Project update: 8/1/97. The project (July – September 1996) focused on the conservation status of arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) and their use of fur seal rookeries on two islands in the North Pacific Commander island complex. Results showed that the foxes on one of the islands appeared to have lost their food – finding techniques and that this could be due to a more problematic conservation status caused by the proximity of a reserve buffer zone. Recommendations included a closer control of the introduction of dogs to this island and more stringent protection.