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Reindeer, also known as Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in North America, are members of the deer family and are the only deer species of which both males and females possess antlers. One of the most amazing things about wild reindeer is the sheer scale of their seasonal migrations-individuals may migrate over 3000 Km in a year in search of sheltered climates and food. Reindeer diets vary between seasons, in summer they eat plants and grasses and in winter lichen and mushrooms. Reindeer have large, rounded hooves, ideal for walking on snow or rocky surfaces and well designed for digging and swimming.


North America
In North America, the number of places where reindeer are found has been greatly reduced - for example, in Canada reindeer are no longer present in the Maritimes. Declines of 40% in British Columbia, 50% in Ontario and 60% in Alberta have also been reported. These declines are caused by changes in habitat following commercial forestry operations and increased human presence that have left Reindeer populations small and separated.

In Europe, wild reindeer are found in the mountains and forests of Norway, Finland, and Russia. Poaching is a major threat to reindeer in the Russian Federation, especially as domestic reindeer breeding has declined in many areas. Hunting of reindeer is strictly controlled in eastern Russia and Norway, yet poaching still continues in the rest of Russia. Reindeer may also be threatened by habitat loss in Finland and increased disturbance in some Norwegian areas due to winter sports.


Today, the conservation needs of reindeer in Canada are recognized by the Canadian government. In Europe, reindeer are protected under the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, reindeer populations need to be monitored and protected to prevent future declines.