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Spreading sickness: Rabies detected in three more Arctic foxes, putting this year’s trapping season in question

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Three more Arctic foxes have tested positive for rabies, heightening concerns about the fall hunting and trapping season after another fox and a reindeer tested positive for the disease since May, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

kart-over-rabiestilfeller
A map shows locations were animals suspected of having rabies were recently found and the results of tests conducted to date. Red dots are positive, green are negative and yellow are untested/pending. Map by Gustav Busch Arntsen / The Governor of Svalbard.

The six animals that tested positive were found in locations throughout of Svalbard, with the exception of the northernmost areas.

“We repeat that people should remain alert and notify the Governor if they observe fox or reindeer with atypical behavior, or dead fox or reindeer,” said Morten Wedege, head of environmental protection for the governor, in a press release issued Thursday.

Typical signs include aggression in foxes and paralysis in reindeer. The release urges people encountering such animals to submit photos or video recordings of the animals or carcasses to the governor’s office.

Officials are evaluating how the positive tests may affect the upcoming fox trapping season. A decision was made last month to allow reindeer hunting season to proceed, although extra safety precautions were urged, and the annual hunts by school and kindergarten students were cancelled.

“We strongly advise people to take precautionary measures,” the most recent press release states. “Do not feed foxes. Dogs must be kept on a leash and not be left unsupervised. Additionally, we refer to the guidelines issued by the hospital in Longyearbyen, stating that everyone who plan to hunt reindeer and are not vaccinated, should undergo the vaccination regime before handling game.”

A full vaccination is issued in three doses that typically take about four weeks. Hunters and or others who handle game and have previously been vaccinated (two years or more since basic vaccination), should contact their physician to check if they are still protected.

The three foxes that most recently tested positive were found in Ebeltofthamna in Krossfjorden, by Heleysundet between Barentsøya and Spitsbergen and at Vindodden.

 

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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