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Wednesday, November 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Reindeer may be weighing less due to global warming

Wild reindeer forage  for food on the island of Spitsbergen, which is part of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, April 20, 2011. (Ben Birchall / Associated Press)
Wild reindeer forage for food on the island of Spitsbergen, which is part of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, April 20, 2011. (Ben Birchall / Associated Press)
Associated Press

STOCKHOLM – Reindeer living on the Arctic island of Svalbard are getting smaller – and scientists say climate change may be the cause.

Scientists from Britain and Norway have found that adult Svalbard reindeer born in 2010 weigh 12 percent less on average than those born in 1994.

Ecologist Steve Albon of Scotland’s James Hutton Institute said rising temperatures in the Arctic mean Svalbard is getting more rain, creating a hard ice sheet the island’s reindeer can’t easily break through to reach food.

Reindeer populations are also increasing due to warmer summers, stoking competition.

Albon said researchers think there is a correlation between rising temperatures and reindeer weight. He said more research is needed to confirm the link.

Their findings were presented Monday at a meeting of the British Ecological Society.

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