They want to snip reindeer to make them better able to cope with the extra thick ice caused by global warming.
TROMSOE, Norway (Reuters/Alister Doyle) – Indigenous Sami peoples in the Arctic may have found a way to help their reindeer herds cope with climate change: more castration.
Research by Sami experts shows that sterilized males can grow larger and so are better at digging for food — as Arctic temperatures vary more, thawing snow often refreezes to form thick ice over lichen pastures.
Neutered males are more able to break through ice with their hooves or antlers, and seem more willing than other males to move aside and share food with calves that can die of starvation in bad freeze-thaw winters like 2000-01.
“To make herds more resilient in the future, we need to re-learn the traditional knowledge of castration,” said professor Svein Mathiesen, coordinator of the University of the Arctic’s Institute of Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry.
More castration “could be useful to adapt to climate change,” he told Reuters in the Arctic city of Tromsoe. “These animals are very good diggers for the small calves in the most critical period of the winter.” Pasture this year is good.