Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Reindeer Populations Are Disappearing Worldwide

by Kelly Dickerson, Staff Writer | December 17, 2014 07:09am ET

Reindeer populations are in trouble around the world, and in China, the iconic animals are on the decline largely because of inbreeding, according to new research.

Some folklorists say Christmas tales of flying reindeer may have originated as a hallucination, with one theory claiming the inspiration for Santa Claus came from shamans who would give out bags of hallucinatory mushrooms in late December in the Siberian and Arctic regions. But, nonflying reindeer are very real and an important part of northern ecosystems.

Reindeer populations currently live in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Alaska, Russia, Mongolia and China, and populations across the board are declining. In the new study, researchers from Renmin University in Beijing focused on the reindeer population in China, which has declined about 28 percent since the 1970s. 

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