Ontario man wins prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award

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Don Gutoski, a physician from London, Ontario, has been named Wildlife Photographer of the Year in a competition run by the Natural History Museum of London, England. His winning shot is called A Tale of Two Foxes, and captures a red fox standing in frozen surroundings holding onto its recently-killed prey—an Arctic fox.

Kathy Moran, a jury member for the contest and an editor at National Geographic, said in a statement about the photo, “What might simply be a straightforward interaction between predator and prey struck the jury as a stark example of climate change, with red foxes encroaching on Arctic fox territory.”

The photo was taken in Manitoba’s Wapusk National Park. Gutoski noticed the red fox hunting, but did not notice until he got closer that the fox’s prey was another fox. He stayed nearby in the -30°C weather for three hours, taking photos of the fox feeding until it finished and left, taking the remains of its kill to hide for later.

“The Churchill guides had heard that the two species will occasionally fight, but no one we talked to had ever seen this behaviour,” Gutoski said in a press release. He told the Natural History Museum he was “more than overwhelmed” by the win, and noted that it is the best photograph he’s ever taken.

Two more Canadians were also honoured in the awards. Connor Stefanison of Burnaby, B.C. won the Rising Star Portfolio Award for a series of six photos, including an extreme up-close shot of a black bear. Ten-year-old Albertan Josiah Launstein was honoured in the 10 Years and Under category for his images Goose Attack and Snowy Snowy, the second of which depicts a snowy owl sitting on a rickety fence during a snowstorm.

There were more than 42,000 entries in the competition from 96 countries. Selected photographs from the competition will be exhibited at London’s Natural History Museum starting this month, and will hang until April 2016.