Castration Helps Reindeer Handle Climate Change
Researchers say they forage for food better, then share it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2011 2:20 PM CST
A reindeer eats salt on a road in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The indigenous Sami peoples in the Arctic have found a way to help reindeer survive the ravages of climate change—but we’re guessing the deer don’t like it too much. Fluctuating temperatures have been a challenge for the reindeer, because melting snow often refreezes and forms ice over the pastures they feed on. Sami researchers have found that castrating male reindeer allows them to more easily break the ice, in part because they keep their antlers later into winter.

It also makes the males more likely to share their food with calves that would otherwise starve to death. “To make herds more resilient in the future, we need to relearn the traditional knowledge of castration,” one professor tells Reuters. Specifically, they’re aiming for “half-castration,” which renders animals sterile, but able to produce testosterone. In Norway, where the law forbids castration without anesthetics, researchers are experimenting with an injection that could mimic the effects.
 

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