Reindeer and Caribou

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 8.48.49 AMFrom the Arctic essay and article, Migratory Tundra Caribou and Wild Reindeer, D. E. Russell, A. Gunn, S. Kutz


Arctic Report Card: Effects of persistent Arctic warming continue to mount – NOAA

  • Migratory tundra caribou and “wild reindeer” populations have continued to drop since declines were detected in the mid-1990s.
  • 22 herds monitored, only 2 herds are at historic peak numbers and have not declined.
  • Caribou death, particularly calf and older adult mortality are directly related to changing climate conditions.
  • To say that low numbers of caribou and wild reindeer have imposed hardships for northern communities is an understatement.  Human cultures and a way of life is being destroyed and globally eliminated.

 

Reindeer (colloquilial: domesticated caribou) and wild caribou are in decline. This is significant for both the tundra species that depend of reindeer herds for grazing and on humans who depend on reindeer as a food source and clothing source, including the Sami and Inuit cultures of the Arctic.

 

“Regional variation in the extent and timing of the caribou declines is high. For example, of the five herds tracked in Alaska, three herds peaked between 2003 and 2010 before precipitously declining 53% by 2017, while during the same period, two Alaskan herds began to recover. Notably, one of the Alaska herds, the Porcupine (shared with Canada), is the only herd in the state to recently increase in population size (44% between 2001 and 2016).

“Across the Canadian Arctic mainland, declines in nine herds have become severe enough that barren-ground caribou became nationally recognized as “Threatened” (as defined by COSEWIC) in 2016 (COSEWIC, 2016) and two herds of Eastern Migratory Caribou are now considered “Endangered” (COSEWIC, 2017). In Russia, where there is a high diversity of wild reindeer sub-species, recent declines are especially apparent for island, forest, and mountain reindeer. Of 19 herds assessed, 18 are rare, decreasing, or “Threatened” (I. Mizin, pers. comm., 2018).” –  Migratory Tundra Caribou and Wild Reindeer, D. E. Russell1, A. Gunn2, S. Kutz3

1CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment (CARMA) Network, Yukon College, Whitehorse, YT, Canada/ 2CARMA, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada / 3Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

Highlights

The abundance of migratory tundra caribou and wild reindeer has continued to drop since declines were detected in the mid-1990s.

Of the 22 herds monitored, only two herds are at historic peak numbers and have not declined.

Recent analyses link caribou productivity, particularly declining calf and adult survival, to changing climate conditions.

Current low numbers of caribou and wild reindeer have imposed hardships for northern communities.

 

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