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Santa’s endangered reindeer need you this holiday season

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 at 6:56 am in Caribou, Endangered species, Reindeer.

Reindeer. USFWS photo

Sad news this Christmas from the Dec. 24 issue of the weekly e-newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity:

On Christmas Eve, as countless kids across the world dreamed of Santa and his flying reindeer clattering across their rooftops, the real wild reindeer of the world faced a more dismal reality: population decline.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2009 “Arctic Report Card,” 18 of the Arctic’s 23 largest migrating reindeer herds are dwindling, and another study found that global populations have shrunk by 57 percent in 20 years.

Caribou crossing. Photo by Flickr user Phillie Casablanca used under a Creative Commons License
Caribou Crossing

Many point to global warming as the culprit — it’s likely that, like polar bears, Arctic reindeer are negatively affected by warming temperatures melting their icy habitat. Sub-Arctic reindeer — like their cousins the woodland caribou, in Idaho and Washington — are also harmed by habitat fragmentation due to logging, road building, oil and gas development, and other human activities.

But instead of letting it get you down this holiday season, remember there are things we can all do to help the reindeer. We can start by fighting global warming to make sure they have white Christmases — and icy winters — for a long time to come.

Learn more about the reindeer’s plight from Scientific American

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