Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) appear to share the same geographic distribution in that both species inhabit the Northern Hemisphere—Arctic. Foxes rarely get killed by polar bears but they do show a tendency to get closer to such a large predator especially when both of them find a dead animal to feed on. Let us see if polar bears really eat arctic foxes.
Do Polar Bears Eat Arctic Foxes?
Polar bears for the most part of their lives rely on ringed and bearded seals. They love to eat seals all day long. However when the primary prey is not available (as is often do) the bears must supplement their diet with some secondary animals. It happens mostly in summer when bears search for land-based mammals. During winter, the ice-floes eventually become too thin to support bear’s weight and as it turns out polar bears choose other animals such as foxes, birds and carcasses to make up the deficiency of food.
Polar bears do interact with many small arctic mammals. Arctic foxes are one of them. They have a predator-prey relationship. That is not to say that polar bears actively pursue arctic foxes or migrate long distances in search of them. Polar bears do not hunt arctic foxes in a way they hunt seals. It is just that bear’s opportunistic nature seems to dominate her choice to eat just about any animal no matter how insignificant it appears to be. Besides, like polar bears arctic foxes are also scavengers. They smell the carcass and if they find one they try to get one. During this time if a bear shows up following the same carcass smell then perhaps the fox becomes the prey along with the carcass. Now polar bear can probably focus on fresh live animal (fox) instead of a dead carcass.
White bears consume seals because seals are full of blubber. White bears need that blubber in days of hibernation. Arctic foxes on the other hand do not seem to provide any such nutritional value. Nevertheless foxes can make a pretty handy meal when the food is scarce.