Quantcast

Russia Plans to Kill 250,000 Reindeer Amid Anthrax Fears

Climate

Officials in the Yamalo-Nenets region in Siberia are proposing the culling of a quarter-million reindeer by Christmas in order to minimize the possible spread of anthrax, the Siberian Times reported.

Theso-called "zombie" anthrax outbreak in Siberia has been blamed on a thawed-out infected reindeer corpse that died several decades ago.Flickr

The deadly problem began over the summer, as record-high temperatures as warm as 95 degrees Fahrenheit thawed out an anthrax-infected reindeer buried in permafrost about 70 years ago. The outbreak killed a 12-year-old boy, claimed the lives of about 2,300 reindeer and four dogs and sickened about 100 people. It was the first time anthrax struck the region since 1941.

According to the Siberian Times, the proposal to kill 250,000 reindeer is dramatically higher than the number of animals that are annually culled in November and December.

To incentivize the nomadic herders to give up their herds, officials suggested a reward of an affordable mortgage to buy an apartment instead of a cash compensation.

An estimated 730,000 reindeer currently live in the Yamalo-Nenets region, an amount that Nikolai Vlasov, deputy head of Russia's Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service, said was already "too high."

"The more dense the animal population is, the worse the disease transfer medium (and) the more often animals get sick," the Russian federal veterinary official said. "Density of livestock, especially in the tundra areas that are very fragile, should be regulated ... Otherwise, they will kill the pastures and later will destroy the indigenous minorities of the north who will have nothing to live on. It is impossible to breed reindeer without limits."

Critics, however, say the proposal to kill 250,000 reindeer would negatively impact the livelihoods of the nomadic Nenets, the indigenous reindeer-herding population who have called the region home for more than a thousand years.

"A huge number of nomads on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas will lose their means of existence and opportunities to maintain their traditional way of life," anthropologist Olga Murashko told the Siberian Times. "Additionally, it is clear that within the short time frame given, the indigenous reindeer herders cannot be properly consulted on the administration's plans to annihilate a large number of reindeer."

As Survival International described:

"For the Nenets who are still nomadic, their lands and reindeer herds remain vitally important to their collective identity. Land is everything to us. Everything," said Sergei Hudi.

"The reindeer is our home, our food, our warmth and our transportation," Sergei Hudi told Survival.

Alexei Kokorin, head of the World Wildlife Fund Russia's climate and energy program, said the temperatures and the outbreak are connected to climate change.

"Such anomalous heat is rare for Yamal, and that's probably a manifestation of climate change," he told The Guardian in August.

The World Meteorological Organization warned last month that the Arctic's rapidly changing temperatures could affect the weather worldwide:

"Dramatic and unprecedented warming in the Arctic is driving sea level rise, affecting weather patterns around the world and may trigger even more changes in the climate system.

"The rate of change is challenging the current scientific capacity to monitor and predict what is becoming a journey into uncharted territory."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new report spotlights a U.N. estimate that at least 275 million people rely on healthy coral reefs. A sea turtle near the Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef is seen above. THE OCEAN AGENCY / XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

By Jessica Corbett

In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.

Read More
Half of the extracted resources used were sand, clay, gravel and cement, seen above, for building, along with the other minerals that produce fertilizer. Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images

The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Read More
Sponsored

By Gero Rueter

Heating with coal, oil and natural gas accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But that's something we can change, says Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passive House Institute in the western German city of Darmstadt.

Read More
Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016. Markus Spiske / Unsplash

By George Citroner

  • Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
  • Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
  • Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.

Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

Read More
Water coolers in front of shut-off water fountains at Center School in Stow, MA on Sept. 4, 2019 after elevated levels of PFAS were found in the water. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a new nationwide assessment of drinking water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are far more prevalent than previously thought.

Read More