Santa may need to look for an alternate form of transportation soon. Reindeer populations around the world have diminished greatly over the past few decades, and researchers in China are concerned about how long the species will survive if the decline continues at the current rate.

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A Chinese study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation reveals a severe decline in reindeer populations since the 1970s. Researchers claim the population of reindeer in China has declined about 28 percent in the past four decades, and that this has far-reaching effects on ecosystems and climate change.

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The main cause for the population decline is inbreeding, but there are a slew of other threats identified in the study. Poaching, predators, and lack of herding and breeding top the list. Population declines in other regions of the globe may be caused by similar events. Without human intervention, it’s possible that reindeers could be added to the endangered species list and risk disappearing forever.

Right now, reindeer are not currently on the Red List created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Researchers are urging for their status to be updated, so that further studies can get underway and conservation efforts started.

If reindeer populations continue to dwindle, it could mean a very different picture of Christmas in years to come.

+ Journal for Nature Conservation

Via Discovery

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