Friday, 11 January 2013

South Georgia prepares to cull its invasive reindeer

The world's mostly southerly herd of reindeer is to be culled to try to save the environment of the island of South Georgia.
The 3,000 reindeer are trampling native plants, causing erosion and endangering king penguins and other local birds by destroying their nests and habitat.
A team of Sami herdsmen from Norway have arrived and are preparing to round up and kill the reindeer.
The operation is expected to take two southern hemisphere summers.
The reindeer is more commonly seen in the Arctic, but Norwegians in need of fresh meat while on whaling missions in Antarctica brought a small herd of 10 reindeer to South Georgia in 1911.
And it is Norwegians who have been tasked with getting rid of the invasive species. The Sami people live with reindeer and their expertise is being drawn on in the cull.
Reidar Andersen, director of the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate which oversees the team, told the Reuters news agency: "The reindeer have become very destructive."
The Sami are preparing corrals into which they will herd the reindeer, then slaughter them with a captive bolt gun shot to the head. Isolated beasts may be shot with rifles.
The reindeer meat will be taken to the Falkland Islands for sale, as South Georgia has no permanent population and is only visited by scientists and government officers.

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