Just in time for Christmas, the New York Times published an op-ed piece by a Canadian wildlife biologist Justina Ray entitled ReindeerAre Fading Into Holiday Myth . Her premise was that climate change and development make it hard for the caribou (also called reindeer) to survive. According to the article, development projects and resource exploration are shrinking their wilderness refuge and roads and other access for resource development are making it easier for hunters to reach the caribou. I guess the controversial Keystone IX oil pipeline project to carry Canadian Tar Sands oil to the US Gulf and the whole Canadian Tar Sands development are part of this dramatic reduction in the Caribou habitat.
Apparently global climate change and instability is also a major factor in caribou herd reduction. In their normal environment, as harsh as it is, who would have thought that too much ice and snow would harm them-but it make it difficult to find their food sources under the snow pack. Combined with unpredictable weather and the increased number of forest fires and tundra fires caused by this, there is much higher calf and female mortality.
Since everybody talks about global weather instability (Global Warming) but nobody does anything about it, global politics will ensure that this source of caribou decimation will only get worse.
And, given that hydrocarbon sources in the Middle East will become more and more unstable and risky, development of these resources in the far north of Europe, Asia and North America, ironically made easier by Global Warming, will continue more rapidly in the coming decades.
Sadly, we must conclude that the decimation of the vast caribou herds once found in Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin,, Michigan, Vermont,New Hampshire, Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will continue. A natural result of the growth of human population and human enterprise.
So, along with the historical Nativities and St Nicholas(Santa Claus) and fanciful Toy Soldiers and Nutcrackers we will eventually remember the reindeer as either Christmas Holiday history or myth