Reindeer threatened by global warming, oil drilling?

Central planning to Rudolph’s rescue!

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada executive director Justina Ray frets in a Christmas Eve New York Times oped entitled “Reindeer Are Fading Into Holiday Myth“:

CHRISTMAS is tied to the magical north and to the reindeer — creatures of mythical power that fly through the night across the world, helping to distribute happiness and good will. But reindeer do exist — we call them caribou in North America — and these animals and their home in the boreal woodlands and on the barren-ground tundra are in trouble.

For the past decade, I have been conducting aerial surveys of caribou herds. As I sit strapped in small planes in minus-20-degree temperatures, it amazes me that that they survive against the challenges of their environment — particularly the females. These animals spend most of the year on the move and live in places that seem intolerably harsh. They undertake long journeys of hundreds or thousands of miles and return to give birth in the same traditional areas. Such large-scale migrations are an ecological phenomenon that, sadly, is fast disappearing across the planet.

Much of the far north is commonly thought to be wilderness. But this situation has been changing rapidly over the last decade. Caribou require a great deal of space to survive, but the clearing of land for one development project after another, combined with the building of roads and other means of access for resource exploration, are bringing about profound changes to their habitat and making it easier for hunters to reach them.

A changing climate is adding additional stress. More winter rain and ice make it difficult for them to dig for the food that lies under the snow. The timing between caribou arrivals on calving grounds and spring plant growth, calibrated over thousands of years, are more and more mismatched, threatening calf survival. Unpredictable weather patterns are increasing mortality as well, and the escalating intensity and frequency of fires in forests and on the tundra present an additional threat.

During the past century, caribou have vanished from at least 40 percent of their southern range. They are no longer found in Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or New Brunswick. Many populations are currently in decline, some by as much as 85 percent over the past 10 years alone. Nevertheless, caribou migrations continue to represent one of the last great wildlife spectacles on earth.

Sadly, the wild lands that support caribou are up for grabs. The epicenter of their range is in the vast hydrocarbon-rich reaches of western Canada and Alaska, where millions of barrels of oil await extraction for markets in North America and Asia. We can’t get the oil out fast enough, and as a result, almost every caribou population in the boreal forests of northeastern British Columbia and Alberta is rapidly losing ground.

In the barren lands of the far north, where caribou numbers have undergone natural fluctuations over decades, the question is whether the declining populations will have the chance and the space to rebound as their ranges, particularly their calving areas, face mineral exploration, mine, oil and gas development, and a changing climate. In these regions, caribou hold tremendous cultural importance to northern people. Stresses on this species reverberate in the daily lives of those who share their range.

Scientists who study caribou are gaining a better understanding of what these animals need to survive, and how they respond to changes in their landscape. That knowledge suggests we move with considerably more restraint in the development of wild places that support this great animal.

Fortunately Ray provides the formula for saving Rudolph in her last sentence:

With comprehensive planning, we can maintain landscapes to safeguard caribou populations before all that remains of this Yuletide symbol of the natural world is a wintry dream from our childhood.

By comprehensive planning, of course, Ray means no oil and gas exploration or drilling.

Also, it’s not really clear that Ray’s “aerial surveys” have been anything more than joy rides over herds — hardly a systematic survey of any changes in or changes affecting the herds.

24 thoughts on “Reindeer threatened by global warming, oil drilling?”

  1. This lady is another Chicken Little who was hit on the head by an Environut and is now dancing around screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!!!” Man’s worst effect ever on the climate is the formation of smog over large cities during the periods of natural inversions, etc. Those pseudo-scientists that support the concept of man-made climate change are those who want the public to panic so they will provide huge dollar grants to support their “research.” I’ve never seen a live caribou and I probably never will. But I have seen starving and handicapped children that deparately need help. The funds from more oil and gas wells would help a lot.

  2. You forget, domestic animals don’t count. That’s why the desert tortoise is still endangered despite thriving both on golf courses and in captivity.

    Save the endangered poodle!

  3. Morons Rule!! The really bad news is that noone in any widespread media is going to call her on this! There IS no real mainstream newspeople (OK, there may be a few). It’s up to the internet sources, such as Steve’s , to carry the ball. Contibute if you haven’t. (Caveat, I may have not, I’ll have to check)

  4. I’m not going to bother to look it up but I know that this is the truth, unlike what Wildlife Conservation Society Canada executive director Justina Ray lies about in this totally false report that she gives. How is that these people can get away with putting forth such false hoods? There were approximately 5,000 head of caribou Prudhoe Bay herd before the field was developed, now there are over 25,000 head in the herd. Development sure caused a lot of changes and stress on this particular bunch of Santa’s sled pullers, about like how the deer in the lower 48 have reacted to the west being developed. These kind of dishonest people need to be called out on these kinds of lies but we all know that there are plenty of brain dead, brainwashed greenies out there that believe this kind of BS.

  5. Just send your money in. All this tear jerker is is a recycled money grub. They don’t e en seem to be much embarrased in doing it.

  6. The road adjacent to the pipeline and containment levees around drilling sites make for dry land where the caribou can get out of the wet tundra and get their hooves dried. There is a small worm that bores into the hooves and cripples the animals if they can’t get their hooves dried periodically. So man’s activity has had a beneficial impact on the caribou. Just like those nasty drilling rigs offshore in the Gulf of Mexico create habitat for fish.

  7. It reached the point long ago where anything an “environmentalist” says can’t be trusted. This is just another in a long string of examples. If only they knew how low their credibility is, maybe they’d take steps to be more honest, Nah, I doubt it.

  8. I work on the North Slope. I can assure you that the Caribou up here are as thick as they can be. We can’t honk at them or gently encourage them to get off the spine road even if we are on an emergency mission. We have to wait for an algore approved environmentalist to get them off even if it means that something burns to the ground or someone dies. As long as the caribou are happy, that’s all that matters.

  9. the forty mile herd in the yukon and alaska declined from 640,000 to about 10,000. from rifle fire ,over hunting and i heard that the us army used them for target practice . they stopped hunting on both sides of the border and while i dont knoww what they did in alaska , they did a wolld kill in the yukon . about five years ago they crossed the yukon river for thee first time in a long time . they feed farther and farther as their numberss grow . they were estimated to be 70,000 then . and i dont knoow what they are now but more again im sure . the only thing human that bothers them is lead poisening . they do pay attention to that for sure but caribou being caribou (they are dumber than chickens)it takes them a while to figure out that humans can mean death .
    on the alaska hiway around muncho lake there iis a park and it is common to see dead caribou there , vehicle accidents . they almost refuse to get off of the road .i rran a pilot car there for onne winter , i would race up to them , blowing the horn to drive them off for the big truck i would be piloting , and they would be back on the road beffore the big truck got there , eeven though he was right behind me .
    climate change causing stress ? i dont think so . there have been seven ice ages in the yukon in the last 150,000 years . a mile of ice over top[ of the yukon river each time . i dont know where this last batch of caribou came from but i do know it would be hard to kill them off . they totally ignore drilling rigs , big trucks ,cats ,pipelines , pumpjacks and anything else manmade except they pay attention to hunting , the only thing .

  10. There in fact has been a dramatic decline in the Canadian caribou population. However the decline started in the late ’60s. The population went from 60,000 to less than 5,000 in the Canadian Arctic Islands. This was only recently attributed to AGW, commencing about 2005.This precipitous fall must be compared with the growing Alaska population of 950,000. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact the population near the and among the oil fields and those that abut the pipeline are the fasted growing. Many biologist and hunters, on a hunch, believe the warm pipeline somehow assists the caribou, either through the warmth or perhaps by opening up migratory pathways.
    As for the Canadian island caribou,

    “Hunting restrictions key: biologist

    Factors such as climate change, which upsets the delicate timing of northern ecosystems, and industrial development, which takes out sections of their range, have been blamed for some of the decline. But the two biggest factors were poor calf survival and hunting.

    Good weather for the last couple of years has decreased calf mortality. And Adamczewski points out that all the recovering herds enjoy one factor in common — hunting restrictions.

    “I think we’re fairly clear that in the later stages of the decline, the harvest did start to accelerate the decline.” ”

    The populations increased dramatically, by 80,000, when a bit of warmer springs and summers concurred with the curtailment of the ridiculous Canadian open hunting laws
    All of this is easily available on line.. One can only surmise that this woman is intentionally lyiing.

  11. Here and I thought recent surveys showed the herds were growing possibly helped by being able to warm along the pipeline!!

    You can basically find whatever results you want by doing net searches. Decline stopped:

    Herd rebounds:

    What they never seem to consider is that it is natural for herds to grow and shrink, Natural climate cycles can magnify this. Man can also interfere due to overhunting. I can’t really accept that we have significantly reduced a herd that roams from the Canadian border to the Arctic ocean except by the type of slaughter that decimated the Buffalo and Carrier Pigeon.

  12. I take heart that folks like Old Forester are politely but firmly speaking out to reveal the deceptions that have been heaped on us by the so-called green movement. I, too remember the dire predictions in the 70’s about the Alaska Pipeline, none of which had any merit. They also warned of the impending ice age, the population bomb, and the end of oil and the dangers of pesticides. None of those came even close to materializing and the suppression of DDT actually cost millions of lives in Africa and elsewhere. For five years, I have been researching “Global Warming” which I had previously accepted unexamined. What I found is the most corrupt and scandalous scientific fraud, eclipsing even Eugenics and “Piltdown Man”.
    As a side effect, I have also learned that new technology means that we will begin exporting natural gas within 5 years and oil within ten. That can happen if and only if the panic-mongering pack of Stalinists who hide behind “environmentalism” are defeated in every election. Fortunately, it looks like that will happen.

  13. hmmm…. Canada goes out of its way to protect the animal habitats to the point of building animal crossings over or under the main roads… I have seen those crossings.

    The story itself is very emotive but it is not based upon fact regarding the caribou. They remain plentiful and the tundra is not necessarily under threat.

    However, I want to point out the emotive comment about the spread of fire. If anything proves that the person is ignorant then it is the emotive use of the spread of fire in that region. This person does not know that the fires are a necessary part of regrowth, especially where larch pines and other pines are to be found. The fires are necessary for the pine cones to burst and for new seeds to be sown, which will bring new life to the forests. The caribou need those fires to occur, just as much as the region itself needs them from time to time. I should point out that these fires are also necessary to stop the onslaught of the pine beetle.

    Sigh…. here I am an Australian, who learned those lessons from a tour so well, but this person who is so emotive does not seem to understand the basics of what is necessary for the regeneration of the region.

  14. I have been to three of the areas she states “there are NO caribou”. She Lies. She has apparently never personally been there, but has relied upon small aircraft reports. They have an incredable ability to hear from LONG distances. Does she even know how well they run? Does she know that they wander greatly in there massive range? Moron report and totally empty of fact, typical of another fictiona report of depletion. I have seen them in Maine, Nova Scotia, on Prince Edward Island, and even New Brunswick. They do not “herd: all year long and it is not uncommon to see them in small groups, which, it appears she has relied upon researchers that observed animals NOT during migration. PROVE ME WRONG!


  15. This story, like many, isn’t about expanding the animal herd. It’s about
    cutting back the human herd. We are Unter tiere to Ms. Ray et al.

  16. I even doubt that the herds are in decline, in that counting from small planes is problematic at best. Much like counting polar bears from helicopters. Maybe she try counting the tortoises being displaced by the solar industry.

  17. More nonsense from the Climate Hysterics. I’m sure somewhere there is an explanation how the herds he claimed were in decline, are for natural reasons. Much like how the Arctic ice didn’t melt in 2007 as much as it was blown southward and has been increasing ever since. Or how the Himalayan Glaciers won’t be gone in 35 years. Or how the Medieval Warming Period, evident in Antarctic ice core samples, was just a regional event. Or how domestic wine was abundant in Great Britain from 900-1400 yet near impossible to make today. Should the missing “hot spot” in the atmosphere, “we know it’s there, we just can’t find it ” also be ignored. How about sea level increases that have not adhered to AGW dogma and are not increasing. The climate is changing, of course it is, or it would be broken – lol. But all the real science concludes the change is neither alarming, nor manmade, nor out of historical timeframe. Nor do we have the ability to change an event we have not caused by devolving mankind back to the stone age. In most scientific events, it is the claimants responsibility to prove a hypothesis to the skeptics. In the case of AGW, the inverse is true. The political connections of a group of agenda oriented scientists has turned the scientific method on its head.

  18. Threatened? They have the honor of being domesticated by man. They m,ay get sparse in the wild but they will not go extinct. They can live in climates very unlike the Arctic.

  19. I was moved to tears by Ray’s touching Caribou story. Particularly the “one of the last great wildlife spectacles on Earth” viewed by virtually no one. After her emotional outpouring, it would be refreshing to get some factual data on the subject.

  20. I remember the enviro-mantra in 1971 while serving in Alaska. 1) ‘The pipeline will melt the permafrost and irreparably ruin the tundra.’. 2) ‘The caribou herds will be decimated. They will not cross the pipeline. The pipeline will irreparably ruin their migration patterns.’. Non of this has occurred. The caribou herds are healthy and plentiful. Even the ‘griz’ are not bothered and frequent all the manmade structures along the pipeline route.

    Fast forward 40 years later: They must be hard up for funds. It is the same non-sensical emotional mantra that needs to be ignored. Let’s take personal responsibility to care for our truly needy, first. Merry Christmas!

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