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WWF: Government must act to protect wild reindeer population

November 13, 9:40 UTC+3 ARKHANGELSK

The WWF expert believes that the law on hunting should be improved

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© REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

ARKHANGELSK, November 13. The efforts on protection and keeping the population of wild reindeer in Russia should be focused at the federal level, Project Coordinator at WWF Russia Ivan Mizin said.

"It is necessary to proceed from collecting data to undertaking at the governmental level measures to keep population of wild reindeer. <...> WWF has been working on strategies to keep various species... The most expressive example is the Amur tiger. For the past two years, we focused on wild reindeer, as despite the big population in Russia and in the world, there are big fears about its long term existence, especially of low-numbered isolated populations," he told a conference at the Northern Arctic Federal University in Arkhangelsk.

According to the expert, though this species is widely spread from the Murmansk region to Chukotka, in most regions it is on the Red Books' lists (analogues of Red Data List). "The most vulnerable groups are, first of all, the isolated populations on the Arctic islands, secondly - the wild reindeer in Russia's European part, and, thirdly, the Taimyr reindeer."

What threatens wild reindeer

Among most evident threats, the expert named poachers and disturbing tourists. "Unregulated use of off-road vehicles in the areas of reindeer migration and calving can damage natural processes," he explained. "Use of snowmobiles is not regulated [in Russia], though experience in European countries shows use of these vehicles may be restricted at certain seasons."

Another problem, he added, is development of the oil production industry, which ruins pastures and natural migration routes. "The lack of corridors (for animals - TASS) across roads, pipelines, electricity lines and in construction of other facilities - all this may affect dramatically certain populations," Mizin said.

Possible measures of protection

According to the expert, it turned out to be more complicated to offer a strategy for protection of wild reindeer, than of other animals. First of all, because this species live in many regions and reindeer is of big importance in traditional life in the North. "Not all populations of wild reindeer are on the Red Book lists, and thus its use and control is regulated by different authorities, not only by the Ministry of Natural Resources," he said.

First of all, he continued, Russia should have unified methods of collecting data in all regions across the country. The traditional method of the data collecting during winter routes cannot be applied widely, thus "the problem now is that we have rather inaccurate data, which are being processed and then reflected in official documents."

"We have a number of suggestions on improving the law on hunting, which currently contains certain contradictions related to unlimited production of wild reindeer in some regions. We also point to production of deer antlers... Here are the measures: localizing the production, limit and control at transport crossings, that is at the places where antlers are produced. And another measure is building the passages, which reindeer could use to cross the infrastructure facilities - like roads or pipelines," Mizin said.

Specified suggestions should be prepared for local authorities, the expert added. "The implementation would be responsibility of the regions. That would be control over snowmobiles, regulation of tourist routes, fighting poaching, and others," he said.

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