BEIJING, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Reindeer populations across the globe are decreasing due to inbreeding and poaching, researchers at a university in China said.
A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation focused on two subspecies -- tundra reindeer and woodland reindeer -- which have declined in population by at least 28 percent since the 1970s. The decline increased markedly in 1998.
"In northern Europe (such as in Finland, Sweden and Norway), Asia (Russia, Mongolia and China) and North America (Canada and Alaska), reindeer populations have been declining for many years," lead author Xiuxiang Meng told Discovery News.
The study, written by researchers from China's Renmin University School of Environment and Natural Resources, blamed the population decrease on six factors, including inbreeding, poaching, natural predators, lack of herders and breeders, climate change, and changes to the tourism industry.
"Bears, wolves and lynx are the three main predators of reindeer, and may kill as many as a third of reindeer calves each year," the report says.
"The semi-domesticated (reindeer) population in China, Mongolia and Russia -- and especially China -- should be given enough concern by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List," Xiuxiang said. "Our survey showed that the reindeer in China comprise the southernmost reindeer population in the world, which is so important to the distribution and conservation of reindeer worldwide."