Human Planet BBC Film Crew/Arctic Fox

A couple weeks back there was a film crew from BBC shooting a documentary about the seasons of Alaska. They were 3 of the nicest and most passionate people I’ve ever met. The two producers were Tuppence and Toby and they had help from their driver and equipment tech guy. They came to our hotel to film arctic foxes, which is unbelievably awesome to me. I love foxes and hope to own one as a pet some day. A lot of people think I’m crazy considering they’re nocturnal but I stay up considerably late anyway. They’re actually a relative of the dog family.

When the film crew first got to camp, they posted flyers all over the hotel detailing their stay at the lodge and if anyone knew any information about where they could find an arctic fox. The first couple days were uneventful as they scoured Deadhorse and the surrounding area for information. They were thoroughly impressed with our food, though. Every single meal they continuously raved about how good they thought our food was. It really helped everyone step up their game and provide the best customer service. The staff and I even ended up watching Human Planet, which the producers that were filming the fox were directly responsible for. They even won an Emmy for their role in it.

4 days after they got here and still no sign of a fox, the night dishwasher had an interesting encounter with one. While the BBC Crew was out searching, our dishwasher, Dave, went to take out the garbage. As he did so, an arctic fox wandered up to him and just sat right in front of the dumpster. The fox just sniffed the air and completely ignored Dave. As Dave moved closer to it so he could dump his garbage, the fox was completely unfazed. We both speculated that the foxes around here are probably used to human beings, most likely associating them with food or as no threat at all. Even though you shouldn’t try to pet them because of the high chance of rabies, it’s still nice to know that the arctic foxes around here aren’t threatened by humans.

The climate in the Arctic is so severe that the physiology of this particular fox has adapted so much that it’s body anatomy is one of the best suited for this climate. It can withstand -58 Fahrenheit in relative comfort without using any metabolic warmth. The feet are covered in fur and are stout. The ears are rounded and closer to the head than other foxes. The muzzle is relatively short as to lessen the amount of heat loss on the body. It’s tail is used for balance and is used for warmth, mostly like a blanket. The tail is actually about 35 percent of the foxes entire length, making it an extremely important part of the animal.

It’s a scavenger that feeds off the remains of polar bear and wolf kills, an avid hunter that kills hares and birds, and also eats vegetables when they can be found. It can even hide food in it’s den to store for winter. The fur on an arctic fox is a thick, oily white coat that beads off water and sheds to a variety of different colors during the warmer months. As for offspring, they have the largest litter recorded by a mammal. Averaging 11 baby foxes in one litter, the fox can give birth every spring around May through April. The mother and father both stay with the pups until fall, feeding them until they can be self-sufficient. Now, in Alaska you can’t own any type of fox as a pet. It’s completely illegal. But in my home state of Utah, you can own any variety of Vulpes Vulpes (Red Fox) which the arctic fox is a part of. You have to make sure they can stay cool, though. From all the research I’ve done on them, they are basically similar to a house cat in mannerisms but completely different from any animal mentalities. as long as you have a large enough pen for them, they have plenty of hiding places, and you make sure they have a lot of things to do, they’re great pets.

Now that you know about the fox, it’s a pretty monumental task that the BBC crew set out for considering the fox is always on the move and tends to hide a lot. Every single day someone would ask them if they found the elusive fox but the answer was always no. They got video of a red fox about a week and half in but every other day was wasted traveling up and down the highway looking for leads on sightings of the arctic fox. This went all the way to the very last day of their trip. They finally ended up with the footage they came for, going all the way to the very last hours of possible filming time to catch these beautiful animals on film. They were greeted by our staff with triumphant praise, which I felt that it showed how enthralled into their project we all were.

The amount of energy it took them to try and get hours of film for a supposed 3 to 4 minute clip in their documentary was astounding to me. It gave me an incredible respect for the people that do this. I grew up watching documentaries with my 2 brothers all the time on the History Channel or Discovery Channel. In fact, those kind of documentaries were the reason I decided to travel the world in search of these amazing places. You can imagine how engrossed the staff and I got when watching one of these films taking place. If you ever get a chance, watch the Human Planet documentary mini-series. Specifically, the desert and grasslands episode since those are the ones these incredible people I got the privilege to meet were involved with. You can thank me later for showing you an amazing film. 🙂

**An update on me, I come home in about 2 weeks. Even though it’s only for a week, I’m still excited 🙂 It’s official that I’ll be spending the 4 months of my summer near the Brooks Range in Alaska at the Coldfoot Camp. I’ve heard it’s beautiful and I’m hoping I can find some lakes or river to fly fish out of. I’m also going to have the opportunity to visit the other camp in the company I’m working with right now right on the Yukon river. It’ll be an amazing adventure since the Brooks Range along the Dalton Highway is one of the least inhabited places by humans on earth. The only thing I’m a little hesitant about is that I’ll be sleeping in a large canvased tin building (it’s a glorified tent, basically) but the pictures that I’ve seen of them show that they’re quite large so that’s good. I’ll be out of phone range which isn’t that big of a deal to me. They have wired phones I can call out on. I’ll also have access to internet so I can keep everyone updated on life in the arctic still. Mount Sukapak is a beautiful mountain just north of where I’ll be that I hope to visit while I’m there. That’s all for now 🙂 Leave a comment below if you have a question or suggestion on what I should write about next!

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