‘The Churchill guides had heard that the two species will occasionally fight, but no one we talked to had ever seen this behaviour,’ says Don Gutoski, Canadian amateur photographer, and Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 winner with this image from remote Cape Churchill, Wapusk National Park, Canada.
‘I first noticed the red fox hunting and interacting with some prey and, on closer approach, realised that prey was a white Arctic fox. By the time I got close enough to capture the event, the fight was over and the victor was feeding. I took a number of pictures, until the red fox had eaten its fill, and picked up the remains to find a hiding spot for a later meal.’
As it did so, Gutoski captured the winning image – out of 42,000 entries – a snapshot of some significantly unusual behaviour. Red foxes don’t actively hunt Arctic foxes, but conflict can arise when the ranges of two predators overlap, as it did in this case, an indicator of how environmental change has led to the encroachment of red foxes on Arctic fox territory.
Gutoski used a Canon EOS-1D X, with a 200-400mm f4 lens, plus a 1.4x extender at 784mm; 1/1000 sec at f8; ISO 640 to take the image.