Animals: Climate crisis is affecting reindeer

The climate crisis is causing problems for reindeer kept by breeders in northern Norway.

Animals: Climate crisis is affecting reindeer

The climate crisis is causing problems for reindeer kept by breeders in northern Norway. There is a risk of problems with young talent, as the Norwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU) in Trondheim announced.

Pastures difficult to access

It is often no longer cold enough for lakes and rivers to freeze over and for the reindeer to walk over the ice on the way to their winter pastures, said Anna-Laila Danielsen, who wrote her master's thesis on the problem. This means that the hiking routes are interrupted.

Reindeer live in the tundra and taiga of the northern polar regions. They are the only domesticated species of deer.

Breeders also reported to Danielsen that a light blanket of snow often falls over the still thin ice. The animals would then often not be able to recognize that the ice is not yet solid. They can then collapse when they walk over them. Some breeders therefore want to build bridges for the reindeer.

In addition, there is now less permanent frost and temperatures fluctuate around freezing point more often in winter than before. This could create several thin layers of ice on the snow, which together would be so hard that the reindeer would eventually no longer be able to access the food under the ice, writes Danielsen. The shepherds therefore have to bring in additional fodder, which is expensive and time-consuming, especially since vehicles carrying hay and pellets cannot reach everywhere in the wilderness.

When feeding, there is often crowding among the reindeer. Dominant specimens keep other animals away from food. This is not a problem in the wild, as the weaker ones look for another place to graze. This is not possible at an artificial feeding station. Some breeders have now developed special devices for supplementary feeding.

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