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Part I: Terrestrial Zoology: Encyclopedia Arctica 3: Zoology (Excluding Birds)
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Part 1: Terrestrial Zoology

Vertebrates

Terrestrial Mammals

(EA-Zoo. A. L. Rand)

TERRESTRIAL MAMMALS

CONTENTS
Page
Cenozoic Migrations 1
Effects of Glaciation on Present Range 3
Habitats 6
Abundance of Individuals 8
Fluctuations in Numbers 9
Bodily Adaptations 9
Food 16
Storage of Food 18
Migration 21
Hibernation 24
Shelter 27
Mammal Interrelationships 30
Mammals in Relation to Man 31
Synopsis of Northern Mammals 35
Insect Eaters: Insectivora 36
Bats: Chiroptera 37
Flesh Eaters or Carnivores: Carnivora 37
Hares, Rabbits, and Pikas: Lagomorpha 39
Rodents: Rodentia 39
Hoofed Mammals: Artiodactyla 41
Bibliography 42

EA-Zoo. (A. L. Rand)

TERRESTRIAL MAMMALS
Terrestrial mammals have been able to occupy the North as far as there is
land on which grows the vegetation they, or the animals on which they prey,
feed. The geological history of the land had its part in determining the
course of evolution of the mammals there, and the climate and its effects have
been a filter, determining what animals may invade the area. The rigorous
northern conditions, with widely contrasting seasons, have demanded modifications
in bodily structure and in behavior.
These same great seasonal changes, sometimes with yearly deviations, have
given a biological situation not yet in balance, so that great changes still may
occur from year to year. The relatively small variety of life in the North has
resulted in the development of some close interrelationships, including the
intimate dependency of man on the other mammals.
Cenozoic Migrations
One of the striking things we see in going from the northern part of the Old
World to that of the New is that the mammals are much the same; familiar types of
shrews, bears, weasel, mink, marten, otter, squirrels, voles, beaver, caribou,
and sheep may be considered different species by the zoologist, but their close
similarity indicates they are closely related and have had a common history.
This similarity between the mammals of northern North America and of northern
Eurasia certainly indicates a closer land connection in the not-far-distant past,

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

a land connection large enough and of long enough duration for the mammalian
forms to develop together. As the differences increase as one goes south, the
connection must have been in the north. Land connections across the Atlantic
have been postulated, but Simpson’s study of the fossil evidence indicates that
a land bridge across the Bering Sea from Alaska to Siberia accords much better
with the evidence and is sufficient to explain both present-day distributions
and those of the past as indicated by fossils. The effects of this land bridge
on various faunas have been traced through geological time from the early Eocene
to the Pleistocene epoch, and is still to be seen today, in the Recent. But it
was not continually in existence. It evidently was interrupted a number of times,
some of the interruptions lasting perhaps for several millions of years. The
latest land bridge was in the Pleistocene. There may even have been some land
connection and some small local migrations between Alaska and Siberia across
the Bering Sea area during the Recent glaciation, whose distance in the past is
probably measurable in tens of thousands of years rather than in millions, as
with some of the former connections.
Where mammals first originated is still shrouded in mystery. In the early
Eocene the fossil evidence indicates that representatives of all the large groups
were involved in the movements across the Bering Sea between North America and
Eurasia. But later exchanges were of smaller scope and concerned only northern
groups already common to the two continents.
In the early Eocene the direction of the migration is unknown. In the late
Eocene there are indications that the migration was more from North America to
Eurasia rather than the reverse. After this, though the faunal exchanges involved
migrations in both directions, the evidence indicates that more groups probably
migrated from Eurasia to North America. This later preponderance of an eastward

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

migration is correlated with the larger area of the temperate zone Eurasian land
mass compared with that in North America, and the impact on its fauna of aggressive
immigrants from both Africa and Asia, as well as from North America. Thus the
Eurasian fauna was probably better adapted to migrate and survive changing condi–
tions, while the North America fauna, developing in a smaller area and with
aggressive new immigrants affecting it only from Eurasia, had a more tranquil
history.
The Bering Sea land bridge apparently always had a cold, rigorous climate,
operating with active selectivity and allowing only cold-tolerating animals to use it.
In the latest epoch, the Pleistocene, the mammal migrants were mostly types
so similar to present-day living forms that they are classified in the same genera.
Some of them that perhaps came from Eurasia to North America are: the hare, pika,
tree squirrel, bear, wolverine, moose, caribou, bison, and sheep. Some that
perhaps migrated from North America to Europe are: the marmot, banded lemming,
brown lemming, red-backed mouse, vole, jumping mouse, and fox.
Effects of Glaciation on Present Range
The ranges now occupied by northern mammals have been occupied only recently,
just since the last ice epoch, their age counted in tens of thousands of years.
Since the last land bridge across the Bering disappeared, glaciers have covered
practically all the arctic and subarctic areas with ice. Mammal life was impossible
on it then as it is today on the ice fields of Greenland and Novaya Zemlya. The
mammals moved southward ahead of the glaciers on both continents, or perhaps in
a few cases remained in isolated ice-free refugia refugia , made into islands by the surrounding ice.
The one in the Yukon-Bering Sea area was probably the largest and best authenticated.
With the melting and retreat of the ice, the cold-tolerating mammals, which
had survived along the southern fringe, spread northward following the retreating
ice.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

At the northern edge of the mainland however, the extent of water in summer
and of ice in winter acted as a barrier in preventing some mammals from reaching
the arctic islands. In North America where there is a whole arctic archipelago
this is particularly apparent. Notable among the mammals that have not spread
north of the mainland are the grizzly bear, the ground squirrel, and the cinerous
shrew. The brown lemming, on the other hand, is famous for its mass migrations
which may move over sea ice. One would expect this lemming to be widespread in
the arctic islands, but it seems not yet to have reached Greenland or Ellesmere
Island.
The caribou, musk ox, banded lemming, and arctic hare as well as the wolf,
arctic fox, weasel, and polar bear have all spread across the ice from island
to island to reach northern Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
But on Greenland the icecap covering the interior cane to the coast in the
northwest and in the east, and some of the mammals that reached North Greenland
have not been able to get across the icecap and colonize the coastal, ice-free
areas of southern Greenland, notably the banded lemming, the weasel, and the
musk ox.
The polar bear wanders far over the ice; it is carried by moving ice and
swims long distances, and has been seen swimming at sea 30 kilometers from the
nearest resting place. For such an animal there are few barriers in the Arctic,
so long as food is present, and the polar bear gets much of its food from the sea.
The arctic fox has similar habits; in winter it wanders widely on the sea ice;
it shares in the polar bear’s harvest of food from the sea, as well as snatching
some for itself (small fish or invertebrates); and it also is carried by the
moving ice. Both polar bears and arctic foxes are brought as far south as the
Gulf of St. Lawrence some years by this means, and one arctic fox even reached
Nova Scotia.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

The arctic here ranges freely over the sea ice, reaching islets 40 kilometers
or more offshore, so it is not surprising to find it, too, in South Greenland.
One would think that the musk ox would also have been able to make the journey,
but for some reason it did not do so. The banded lemming has been found some
kilometers out on the ice, sometimes frozen to death, but it has never reached
South Greenland. Perhaps the journey across the glaciers is too much for it,
although it has been recorded as traveling 57 kilometers over the ice in North
Greenland. The absence of the weasel in South Greenland can be correlated with
the absence of its main prey, this same lemming.
The colonizing of the north from the south is still going on. In the last
60 years or so , the coyote has spread from south of our area (which is still not
clearly defined) and has now reached the arctic coast, both in the forested
country of the Mackenzie and in the tundra of Alaska. The red for as now
ranged out onto the barrens since our first knowledge of the area, but in recent
years has increased and spread there, to the consternation of some of the trappers
who fear that in some areas it may usurp the place of the more valuable arctic
fox. Recent records indicate that the red fox may become established in Baffin
Island; the wolverine is there, and there are even surprising records of the
ordinarily forest-dwelling lynx reaching southern Baffin Island, evidently
traveling on drifting ice from northern Quebec.
In the Old World there is no similar archipelago and the islands lying in
the polar sea there are few and scattered. Spitsbergen has been reached by the
polar bear, the arctic fox, and the reindeer, which must have traveled over the
sea ice. Nov a ya Zemlya, much closer to the mainland, has the brown and the banded
lemming, the arctic fox, the polar bear, and the reindeer, according to Gorbundoff.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

Habitats
In the North there are distinctive types of landscape, each occupied by
mammals peculiar to them. The treeless country north of timber line (the tundra
of E a urasia, the so-called barren grounds of America) that forms a circumpolar
ring around the tops of both continental masses and sends arms w s outhward down
the crests of the mountain masses has its characteristic mammals. The northern
edge of the coniferous belt, the taiga of Eurasia, and the Hudsonian zone forest
of America, composed chiefly of open stands of spruce with thickets of willow
and dwarf birch that forms the second circumpolar belt, also has its character–
istic mammals. The taiga sends northward extensions along the river valleys.
The treeless country has: ( 1 ) polar deserts, which are the permanent ice
and snow fields (as in Greenland, northern Baffin Island s , and the islands to
the north of it, Nov a ya Zemlya and Spitsbergen), destitute of mammal life except
for wanderers; ( 2 ) desert tundra, where the rocks are nearly devoid of vegetation,
as in large areas of Baffin Island, and mammal life is scanty; and ( 3 ) the grass
and lichen tundra, the main home of the polar mammals such as caribou, musk ox
(North America only), arctic hares, banded and brown lemmings, wolf, arctic fox,
and weasel (called ermine in the Old World). On the tundra near timber line,
locally, are other species that also occur in timbered areas: shrews (genus
Sorex ), brown and grizzly bears, wolverine, red fox, ground squirrels, red-backed
mice, and voles of the genus Microtus ; above timber line in the mountains are
sheep, pika, and marmots.
The coniferous forest belt does not begin suddenly but changes gradually
through shrubs, such as willows and scattered trees, to forest. Taiga and tundra
also interdigitate, especially where the Mackenzie River valley carries forest
far north in America, and along the north-flowing rivers in Siberia. No more

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

do the mammals suddenly change from those of barren ground to those of the forest.
The caribou and the arctic fox, e x s pecially in winter, enter the forest and even
the musk ox, in summer, favors the willow thickets where they are present.
The T t aiga is richer than the tundra in species of mammals, corresponding
to its richer and more varied plant life. Feeding among the trees, in the air,
are a few bats, especially in the Old World; in the trees live tree squirrels and
flying squirrels and on the ground are moose, varying hare, some voles, chipmunks,
lynx, red fox, mink, marten, sable, and black bears. Several insectivorous shrews
occur; and in the freshwater streams are muskrats (America only), beaver, otter,
and mink, all of which find their headquarters in this forest belt.
Only a few species range widely in both forest and tundra, among them notably
the wolf and the weasel.
The increase in the number of species of mammals as one goes from the polar regions
to the tropics is a general phenomenon, and its actuality is well illustrated by
giving in Table I the numbers of land mammals reported from a series of stations
in our area, arranged in a north to south series as far as possible. Note par–
ticularly the great difference between the number of species inhabiting the taiga
and the tundra.
Table I.
Area Type of country Land mammals recorded,
number of species
Northeast Greenland Tundra 8
Southern Baffin Island Tundra 11
Perry River, Queen Maud Gulf Tundra 14
Mackenzie Delta Taiga, tundra,
and mountain
36
Wood Buffalo Park, Canada Taiga 44

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

Abundance of Individuals
Although the number of species in the North is limited, the number of indi–
viduals in a certain species may be great. When voles or lemmings are plentiful,
the tundra may be so riddle s d with their burrows and marked by their digging that
it has a tattered appearance. For long stretches the ground may be undermined
with their tunnels and sown with their holes. In walking over the tundra the
tiny rodents may scurry over the ground ahead of one. The vast numbers to which
the brown lemmings attain are best seen when they make one of their irr e gular mass
movements. In the Queen Maud Gulf area, Gavin saw “The sea ice was covered with
a moving mass of lemmings.” He estimated an average density of one lemming to the
square yard, and indicated the movement extended over a 60-mile front and lasted
for 10 days.
The caribou numbers, when these animals move en masse, are even more striking.
From a rise in the country west of Hudson Bay, sometimes many herds of from 100
to 2,000 animals may be seen at once, and an estimated 20,000 caribou have been
reported in view at one time. Such herds, when forced into a small compass, as at
a river crossing or a pass, may leave the ground as bare mud and dust with hardly
a spot untrampled by their hoofs or with a bit of vegetation showing. Such
aggregations of animals have been the basis of estimates in the past of herds of
“millions” of caribou. David Thompson, Joseph B. Tyrrell, and Vilhjalmur
Stefansson are a mong those who have published large estimates — Thompson up to
three million, Tyrrell and Stefansson “several hundred thousand.”
In the forest too, sometimes, such species as the varying hare become so
common that many of them may be in sight at one time in every willow and bush
thicket they frequent. Their ravages on the vegetation, the bare stems from which
the bark has been gnawed, and the stems t rimmed in their feeding may be conspicuous
features of the landscape.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

But not all northern species are numerous. The least weasel, Mustela rixosa ,
though a widespread circumpolar species, seems always rare. Certain voles, such
as those of the genus Phenacomys , and shrews of the genus Microsorex are usually
scarce or rare.
Fluctuations in Numbers
Numbers are an unstable thing in the North. Some years a mammal may be in
swarming abundance; in other years the species may be so scarce that it is
difficult to find a single individual. This is well illustrated by the varying
hare and the lemmings, animals that have become almost classical examples, with
the corresponding fluctuations in numbers of the animals that depend on them
largely for food, the lynx and the arctic fox especially. The ramifications
of the effects of these fluctuations are much more widespread than the prey–
predator relationships, extending as far as the differential growth of certain
vegetations and the prosperity of trappers. There is much evidence to show that
these periods of abundance and scarcity rec o u r with a regular rhythm, and with a
periodicity of different length for some species; notably about four years for
some of the smaller rodents and ten years for some of the larger animals. There
is also evidence for long-term changes in abundance in some of the largest species,
such as the moose and the wolf. Whether or not these have a regular periodicity
is unknown. It used to be though these fluctuations were world wide, but much
recent data indicate they do not synchronize over wide areas, and the animals
may be common in one area while scarce in another but a short distance away
(see “Population Cycles”).
Bodily Adaptations
The severity of northern c onditions has had its effect in directing the
evolution of the animals living under them. No one factor will account for

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

everything, but cold, deep snow, and type of cover and food available, as well
as other less tangible factors have molded the bodily form; sometimes one factor
is dominant, sometimes another.
It has been laid down as a zoological rule (Bergman’s rule) that when closely
related animals occur in warm and cold climates, those from no r thern climates tend
to be larger. This has been correlated with the larger animal having a propor–
tionately smaller body surface to unit of body weight, and so reducing radiation
of heat, an important factor in arctic climates.
When we examine this for arctic mammals, there are so many exceptions and
contradictions that it seems other factors, probably ecological, have played more
important parts in determining the direction of evolution of arctic mammals.
First it must be pointed out that both very large and very small mammals
occur in the subarctic forests. In North America the pigmy shrew ( Microsorex Microsorex ) ,
less than four inches long, weighing only a few grams and one of the smallest
mammals, and the big brown bear ( Ursus ) and the moose ( Alces ), weighing over
1,000 pounds and among the largest of North American mammals, all occur in the
Subarctic. In the Eurasian Subarctic there is also a tiny shrew, an enormous
bear, and a moose.
In some species the size is greater in the north than in the south: the
northern short-tailed weasels tend to be larger than more southern ones; the
arctic hare is larger than the more southern varying hare; the northern coyotes
tend to be larger than southern coyotes. But there are many obvious exceptions:
the largest musk ox are not to be found in the north; the southern caribou are
larger than the most northern caribou; the northern wolves are not as large as
some of the more southern ones; the northern chipmunk is a small species. The
tundra shrew is smaller than its closest relative to the south. The common meadow

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

mouse or vole of eastern North America in the east shows a decrease in size in
going northward; in the west, going from southern Canada to the Mackenzie Delta
it shows a decrease through northern Alberta and southern Mackenzie, and then
an increase in size farther north. Therefore, it would appear that in gross
size no general rule applies.
Correlated with a cold climate, appendages tend to be short (Allen’s rule),
presumably an adaptation for the conservation of heat. We see it in the small
ears of the arctic fox as compared with the ears of more southern foxes in both
Eurasia and North America; the shorter ears of the arctic and varying hares as
compared with the long ears of more southern forms such as the jack rabbits.
The tail, too, has undergone a reduction in the north; it is very short
in the moose, caribou, and musk ox; the lemmings have the tail very much reduced;
the arctic fox has a relatively shorter tail than the red fox; the red squirrel
has a relatively shorter tail than does the more southern gray squirrel. However,
when it comes to a question of feet, which according to Allen’s rule should be
relatively shorter in cold climates, we find other environmental factors have
been more effective. The moose has developed very long legs, presumably for
wading through bogs and deep snow, though the musk ox, living farther north,
does have feet relatively shorter than its more southern relative, the bison.
The adaptations in feet are more pronounced in characters adapted to the physical
aspects of the environment. The long legs of the moose have been mentioned; the
caribou solves the problem of getting over deep snow and soft bog in another way,
by developing “snowshoes.” Its hoofs spread widely when the weight is placed on
them, and serve to keep the animal from sinking deeply into the soft medium. The
same adaptation is also very apparent in the snowshoe rabbit, with its long broad
hind feet which have given it its name, and in the lynx. Although the lynx is

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

almost the same size as the bobcat, its nearest relative further south, its
hind feet are almost 10 inches long and disproportionately broad, while the
hind feet of the bobcat are only about 8 inches long and much less bulky.
Another striking peculiarity in foot development peculiar to the Arctic is
in the seasonal development of the foreclaws of the banded lemming. In the
summer they are of normal size, but in winter the nails become greatly enlarged,
the enlargement being shed in the spring. This is usually assumed to be a n
unique adaptation for burrowing in snow, although the brown lemming that does
not have this seems to get along just as well.
Other ecological adaptations for special environments as in other parts
of the world are also found; the long feet or legs for running (deer); short
broad feet with sharp claws for climbing (squirrels, martens, sable); fringes
on sides of the feet for swimming (muskrat, some shrews); webbed feet for
swimming (otter); and broadened forefeet with stout claws for digging (moles,
marmot, ground squirrel). The spring coat of the Canada porcupine, with spines
which stick into the mouth of a would-be predator and discourage it, is a
striking case of defensive armor, but this type of adaptation is more common
in temperate and tropical climates.
A prime necessity for an animal living in a cold climate is a heavy coat
of fur for warmth. This we find reaching its highest development in the Sub–
arctic and the Arctic. The hairy covering of many animals tends to consist
of long, coarse, stiff guard hairs, serving to protect the underfur, and the
shorter, denser, finer underfur, furnishing the warmth. In the musk ox these
are strikingly contrasted, where the long guard hairs may reach a length of
24 inches or more, while the underfur is a woolly coat 2 or 3 inches thick,
close to the skin. In the caribou there is not this sharp distinction, the

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

insulating effect being achieved by a very dense coat of hair of about uniform
length. The hairs are thicker at the tip than at the base, are hollow and
filled with air, and are so closely spaced they will not lie down. The caribou
skin is universally considered one of the warmest of skins for covering. The
roughness of the pelt and the brittleness of the hair, however, make it un–
suitable for civilized use.
Our finest furs for the fur trade come from the Arctic and Subarctic.
Many of them are of the weasel and wolf tribe; their sleek, glossy, dense
guard hairs and warm underfur make them especially prized. But some rodents
also provide pelts of note , of which the beaver is the finest. From the north
of North America important animals for the fur trade include the fisher, marten,
lynx, beaver, and arctic fox, which supply the most costly furs, and also the
red fox (whose color phases, the cross and silver, no longer command a fabulous
price since they are being extensively raised on fur farms), wolf, weasel,
squirrel (of secondary importance), otter, mink, and muskrat (a staple fur,
now important for the large number taken). From the northern part of the Old
World come such fur s as sable (related to marten but with finer fur), otter,
lynx, kolinsky or yellow weasel, ermine (the weasel of North America), arctic
fox, red fox, here (a much better fur than that of American hares and used to
simulate arctic fox), burunduk (a chipmunk), baum marten (related to sable),
otter, squirrel (related to the American red squirrel but of finer pelt), and
wolf.
Not only is the fur coat of northern mammals warmer than that of those
living in warmer climates, but the animals tend to be more completely furred.
The deer of southern climates have bare areas on the nose; these areas are more
fur-covered in the moose and caribou; the same is true of the musk ox.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

The feet of many northern mammals are also much more heavily furred
than their southern relatives; the bottom s of the feet of the polar bear and
arctic fox in winter are completely covered with fur, and the lemmings and
some of the voles have furry feet.
A storing-up of fat under the skin as reserve food to carry the animal
over the lean winter period and to serve as insulation against the cold has
often been postulated. There is no doubt that many animals do get fat in the
fruitful days of summer, but the value of this as a factor in overwinter sur–
vival (except in hibernators) is probably overestimated. This is particularly
true of the caribou, in which an old male may have 50 pounds of fat laid down as
a blanket over its hips, just under the skin. Far from being a reserve for
winter, this fat is used as a reserve food for the mating period in the fall,
when for some weeks the male does not eat, and consequently enters the winter
lean and in poor condition.
That the color assumed by arctic mammals is an adaptation to their
environment has been questioned. Many arctic and subarctic mammals are some
shade of brown, as shrews, voles, some bears, most of the weasel family, and
beaver; the moose and the musk ox are blackish; some voles, the pika, and some
caribou are grayish; [: the ] brilliant colors are approached in the red-brown of
the red fox, red squirrels, red-backed mice, and banded lemmings. Contrasting
patterns are found in only a few: the stripes of the chipmunk; the spots of
some ground squirrels; the rump patches of sheep; the rump, neck, and flank
markings of some caribou; and the lateral stripes of the wolverine.
But the striking thing about coloration of arctic mammals is the tendency
of some of the tundra animals to be white. This is apparent in the polar
caribou of both hemispheres. The most northern wolves also tend to be white

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

(although the black phase of the red fox, a forest animal, tends to be most
common in the northern edge of its range), and this whiteness reaches its
greatest development in the polar bear, which is white the year round.
This whiteness is also acquired by another method; a seasonal change so
that the animal is white in winter when the ground is snow-covered, and brown
or gray when the land is not snow-covered. This seasonal color change is
shown by some species of both predatory animals and those that are preyed
upon. The hares of the forest have this double molt; the arctic fox is bluish-
brown in summer and white in winter; the weasels and the banded lemmings (but
not the brown lemming) show this change. With the arctic hare in North America,
while the southern ones become slate-colored in summer, the northern ones stay
white or nearly white the year round.
The functional value of a white coat to these animals is still being
debated. The first and obvious correlation is that, with the snow changing
the dark background to white, the color-changing food animals are less con–
spicuous to predators; and color-changing predators are less conspicuous to
their prey. This may be true, but white coloration reappears also in antarctic
birds where there are no effective enemies.
The mammals that change color with the seasons have two molts a year.
But with most arctic mammals there is but a single annual renewing of the fur.
This molt takes place in a short space of time. The fur is often all shed
about the same time, the incoming coat pushing off the old fur over the animal’s
whole body. Before the molt the animal may be covered with a long dense coat;
during the molt the caribou or the arctic fox may present a very ragged appearance,
with great flakes of old fur peeling off. When the molt is first complete and
the incoming hairs still short, the long-haired animals such as the arctic fox
may appear to be much smaller than when they were wearing their winter coat.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

Food
Mammals all depend on vegetation for their food, but some get this at
first hand while others get it by eating other animals which eat plants.
On the tundra, the caribou, the musk ox, the hare, and the banded and
brown lemmings are the herbivores, feeding on grasses, leaves, and twigs.
Preying on them are the wolf, the arctic fox, and the weasel. The polar
bear has closer touch with the sea, whence it draws most of its food.
In and near the taiga with its more varied vegetation, one finds various
types of herbivores: the voles, hares, ground squirrels, marmots, sheep, and
moose grazing and browsing; voles tunneling for roots; some mice, tree squirrels,
and chipmunks favoring seeds and fruits; beaver and porcupine eating much bark
of trees but getting it in quite different ways (the beaver felling the trees
by gnawing through them at the base and then eating the bark, the porcupine
climbing the trees and gnawing off the bark in situ ); and the muskrat and the
moose feeding to some extent on aquatic vegetation. As a natural correlation
the greater the number of herbivores , the more predators there are: the wolf
and weasel; but there is also the red fox feeding on mice and hares; the lynx
preying on the woodland hare; the marten chasing the squirrel in the trees; and
the otter chasing fish in the streams (and it is said to attack beaver and take
muskrats). Here also are shrews, hunting insects and other invertebrates in
the ground cover, and a few bats catching them in the air overhead.
The bears are special cases in regard to food: they are terrestrial carni–
vores in structure, but the polar bear has invaded the domain of the sea, feed–
ing on fish and on seals; and the black grizzly bears much of the time fill their
stomachs with vegetable material but prefer meat, never losing an opportunity
to secure a meal of it, even if it means eating carrion.

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Some mammals, such as the musk ox, sheep, voles, and lemmings feed on
much the same types of vegetation in summer and winter. But the caribou
that feeds on grass during the summer turns to lichens for the winter; the
snowshoe rabbit, eating grass and herbs in summer, turns to bark and twigs
in winter; the shrews, insect - eaters in summer when insects are plentiful,
may eat seeds as well in winter; the arctic fox that in summer feeds on
lemmings and birds (and their eggs and young), finding the birds gone and
the lemmings hard to reach under the snow in winter, may go along the beach
picking up whatever appears from the sea or may follow the polar bear for scraps.
The black and grizzly bears that feed on herbaceous matter (grass, roots,
and horsetail) during the summer change to berries when they are plentiful in
the fall; grizzlies change to fish diets when salmon run in the Pacific streams.
Adaptations in feeding habits have to be made. The caribou that grazes
may find its food covered by snow and have to dig for it. On some wintering
ranges, caribou have been reported digging pits four feet deep through the snow
to the browse underneath. Legend has it that the caribou digs with the flattened
brow antler, but recent observations indicate it uses its forefeet only.
Arctic hares, feeding on wind - swept areas, are usually able to push aside
the light layer of snow covering their food by using their noses and scraping
with their forepaws. Sometimes, however, there is a frozen crust over the snow,
and then the behavior of the hare follows a different pattern. The sense of
smell apparently enables it to locate its hidden food, and then over the chosen
spot it hammers the crust with blows of its forepaws. With the crust broken,
the hare may remove the larger pieces with its mouth, and then, with nose and
forepaws, gets at its food in the usual way.

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Storage of Food
In a country where food is abundant for a short season and scarce or
difficult to get for the rest of the year, a logical development is that of
harvesting the food in the season of plenty and storing it until the season
of scarcity. This we find in many of our mammals, both flesh - eaters and
vegetarians. In some, this storage is a highly developed behavior, and
probably essential for the animal’s winter survival, as with the beaver, pika,
and voles; in others it is more haphazard, and its survival value is probably
not so generally important.
The meat - eaters are able to store food in the cold climate where it
decays slowly. Bears sometimes bury their surplus from a meal, and even the
polar bear may cut out large blocks of snow with his forepaws and cover the
remains of a seal. Wolves often chew off parts of a large mammal they have
killed and carry the pieces away and bury them. These, however, seem to be
temporary rather than long-range storage.
The arctic fox, locally at least, makes caches for winter use. In northern
Greenland these foxes lay up stores of little auks or dovekies. They are laid
together in an orderly manner, always with the heads eaten off, all the tails
pointed the same way, and laid in rows or arranged in heaps. Large numbers of
eggs are also collected. In one cache, 27 little auks and 40 eggs were re p c or t d ed.
The mink stores such food as muskrat, fish, Squirrels, and birds. One
mink cache in a hollow long was found to contain 13 freshly killed muskrats.
Weasels often kill more than they need and this is sometimes considered a
bloodthirsty habit. But it is no more a lust for killing than is the woodsman’s
foresight in providing his larder with meat for the winter. Weasels when
undisturbed [: ] o not leave their prey scattered about, but carefully store it

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away and, in many cases, bury it. Not only will the weasel carry [: ]
off prey that it has killed, but will carry off a supply of animals already
dead, as was shown when one rifled a collector’s tent and carried off not
only mice and birds but also chipmunks that had been made into specimens.
This storing instinct of weasels does not seem so definite as that of some
rodents, and it is said much of the stored meat probably decays.
The vegetarians store a number of types of food; seeds, roots, herbage,
and bark. The store may vary from a mushroom casually stuck in a fork of a
tree by a squirrel to the elaborate cache of cut sticks made by the beaver.
In the coniferous forests, the tree squirrels become busy in the autumn
cutting down the fresh crop of cones for the seeds which they contain and
caching the cones in little holes dug in the forest floor under a favorite
tree, and here they also deposit quantities of berries. The squirrels, or
a succession of squirrels, use the same feeding and storing place year after
year and a whole heap or mid d en of the cone scales accumulates. These middens
may be conspicuous things, up to 9 feet high and 12 feet across. It is in
this pile of debris that the squirrels bury their winter’s food supply.
The little chipmunk is also a diligent storer of food. Soon after he
emerges from his winter home in the spring and until he retires in early
winter, he devotes much of his time to gathering and storing away seeds for
food. These are stored in various places - - some in crevi s c es in a rock,
some in his winter home in an underground burrow.
Several species of voles store roots for winter. On the American tundra,
the root of the plant Hedysarum boreale or “licorice root” is gathered by
voles and stored in underground chambers. These roots are tasty to humans,
and are stored in such quantities that some Eskimos search them out with the

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aid of dogs, and appropriate the store for their own use. Above timber line
in the mountains of the New World, another species of vole excavates chambers
just below the surface of the ground and stores quantities of carefully cleaned
starchy rhizomes of a sedge, individual stores amounting to a double handful
or more apiece. In Asia the same habit prevails with certain voles. In the
lower Kolyma region of Siberia, the a farinaceous root is laid up in large
quantities by voles in their burrows, and here too the local people seek out
these stores as additions to their own food supply. Although these roots
would be present in the ground all winter, the ground would be frozen, and
this source of food would be unavailable to the voles if not gathered before
the freeze-up.
The pikas that live in rock heaps and talus slopes above timber line
make “haystack” caches. In late summer and early fall, the animals indus–
triously gather the stems, leaves, and flowers of a wide variety of plants
growing in or near their rocky homes. They pile their cuttings into miniature
“haystacks” on shelving rocks, in spaces between rocks, or more rarely under
logs or stumps, where they are exposed to the air but are well protected from
rain by overhanging rocks or logs. These stacks average about the size of a
bushel measure, and, safe under the snow, are the pika’s winter food supply.
The beaver makes an underwater store of its favorite food, usually of
branches such as aspen or willow. The branches and sticks are cut on the
shore, then pushed, rolled, or dragged to the water. Once afloat, the beaver
grasps the stick in its teeth and lets it float alongside as it swims to the
food pile. This food pile is usually located near the beaver’s lodge, handy
for winter use. The first pieces brought to the store may be forced into the
bottom of the pond to anchor them; on later trips, the beaver dives with its

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load and forces the material into that already there. The final store is
an entangled mass of waterlogged brush and sticks that may reach considerable
size, up to 124 feet in circumference. When the pond freezes over, the
beaver has its food at hand. When it wants to feed, it leaves its house by
its the underwater entrance, swims under the ice to the food pile, detaches a
length of stick, swims back to its the house, and devours the bark from the stick
at its leisure, without having to expose itself to the elements or to it s enemies.
Migration
A yearly seasonal change in environment, a change from a mild growing
season of plenty to one that is severe, with snow and without plant growth,
demands seasonal adaptations in the animals’ behavior. One of the most obvious
is that of migration, when the animal moves from an area with unfavorable con–
ditions to one of more favorable conditions. The question of migration in land
mammals in the Arctic usually directs attention to the caribou and the brown
lemmings with their well-known movements of sorts; perhaps incipient and rudi–
mentary migration are indicated in a number of others. Voles of the genus
Microtus tend to summer in low, wet , places where the growing vegetation on
which they feed is lush; but in winter they may move, perhaps only a matter
of a hundred yards or so, to a drier slope. One effect of this is seen in the
spring when the snow melts, and vole signs completely cover a restricted area
on a slope where they have wintered and eaten all available vegetation. Musk ox,
one of the most stationary of arctic mammals, makes a similar biannual change
of territory, from lowlands in summer to higher land in winter. Perhaps this
is correlated with depth of snow in the lower places being greater than on
wind-swept exposed places. Depth of snow is certainly correlated with movements
of sheep in the Yukon and Alaska mountains, where sheep winter on areas of

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little snowfall or where the wind sweeps away the snow, and spend the summer
spread out over a much wider area. The polar bear, which follows the sea ice,
is scarce or absent in summer where there is no ice, and the female polar
bear that has to leave the sea ice and move to an area of land to hibernate
and to bring forth her young also shows incipient migration.
The brown lemmings, though their movements in northern Europe, and in
North America to a lesser extent, have been widely publicized, represent a
special case of migration. Periodically, but apparently without regularity,
a population of lemmings may become very dense and then vast numbers of them
move away from the densely populated area. In Norway they may swarm down the
mountains and into the sea; on the Murmansk coast they sometimes swim out to
sea; in Arctic America the most notable accounts are of cases where they cross
the sea ice. The lemmings appear to move continuously in a certain direction,
perhaps determined by slope, the animals going downhill which explains their
going to the ocean. Steadily the movement presses on, as illustrated by
Gavin’s observations on the frozen Queen Maud Gulf: “they were all headed in
an easterly direction. They stopped at nothing. Untold thousands plunged
over the ice into the water of a lead… They perished in large numbers in
these leads, but here and there they found passages up the ice and blindly
continued their journey without deviation and without hesitation.” But these
movements differ from real migration in there being no return. The animals
migrate en masse and perish. Only those few left behind survive to carry on
the species, and start the population building up again to where another mass
emigration occurs.
The caribou is another wanderer whose movements are often called migration
but which really fall in another category. Uncertainty and irregularity are

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are the peculiarities of caribou movements. The general statements that
caribou move toward the arctic coast of Siberia in summer and southward away
from the coast in winter, and that similar movements occur in northern Canada
tell only a part of the story.
The caribou in summer favors rich grass, but in the long winter it lives
on the abundant lichens (“reindeer moss,” Cladonia ). The moss is slow-growing,
taking perhaps 15 years to recover from severe grazing. (It has been demon–
strated that arctic tundra will support at most 10 caribou per square mile.)
The caribou is extremely gregarious and the herd units sometimes contain 100 to
2,000 head where the animals are plentiful. Thus they graze close-herded. If
they stayed long on an area they would exhaust the grazing for many years. The
only adaptation possible within this animal’s habits is a roving life, during
which it stays but a short time in any place. This is just what has happened.
Most of the caribou are continually moving, summer and winter; the rut takes
place during migration, and even during calving there is only a temporary halt.
In the special case of caribou, the migration seems to be an adaptation
for conserving the range; the animals return to certain favorite summering
areas where they feed on grasses, but for the rest of the year they wander,
getting a bite here and another there. To do otherwise would unduly deplete
the range. The direction taken in migration seems to be determined in part
by topographical factors; in part by a line of good pastures. This last, of
course, may be determined by former use, as well as by chance, and we find that
caribou may use an area for a number of years and then go elsewhere for a number
of years. The direction may be north and south, as in Siberia and in the main
range in Arctic Canada. The former migration to and from Victoria l Island
to the mainland is a good example. In southern Canada, on the barrens and

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the forest edge, the migration, while north and south, tends to be circular,
perhaps an adaptation to cover more range during the year; with the Yukon-
Tanana herd, it retraces its route hammed in by mountains. In Baffin Island
much of the migration is from the summer range of the grass plains and marshes
of the west to the higher eastern country where lichens are abundant in winter.
In northern Yukon the movement may, in the fall, first be north to the coast,
then east to the Mackenzie River, then south, and west again through a mountain
pass to the range from which they started (some years they don’t use this route
at all). But all guesses may fail, and, as Murie writes, after pronounced
movement caribou are still everywhere and it is difficult to say where they’ve
gone; some caribou seem to winter some years in almost every part of the range,
and some populations, as the present ones on Victoria Island, on Spitsbergen,
and probably many others, do not seem to migrate at all.
The only clear-cut migration in Arctic-inhabiting mammals is that of the
bats that have ventured into the northern forest. One, at least, the hoary bat,
that has been recorded north to Southampton Island, makes definite migrations
by flying to warmer climates in winter and back again in the summer.
Hibernation
Another way in which northern mammals are adapted to the winter is through
hibernation, spending the winter in a dormant or semidormant state. The hiber–
nating animal typically enters this winter sleep in a fat condition with the
stomach empty. Some bears are said to purge out their intestines with special
foods and then, both in North America and in Eurasia, to eat a quantity of
fibrous material which plugs the intestines and remains in place during the
winter. In its dormant condition, body temperature may drop to a few degrees
above freezing and bodily processes slow down greatly, so that little of the

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accumulated body fat is used as a reserve of food during the winter. Most of
this fat apparently serves as insulation and as a store of food for the
animal when it wakes up in the wpring, when little fresh food is as yet avail–
able. This winter sleep appears not to be continuous even with the most pro–
found hibernators, the formant animal rousing at intervals throughout the
winter. Possibly this is an adaptation to keep it from freezing; for with
waking, bodily processes speed up and body temperature increases. Violent
shivering often accompanies this waking, apparently another heat-inducing
phenomenon.
While the most profound hibernators such as the marmots and the ground
squirrel go into hibernation in the fall and do not emerge until the spring,
there are other species such as the red squirrel which disappear into their
shelters and remain quiet for longer or shorter periods, a few days or a week
or two, in severe weather. Probably all should be called hibernators, of
varying profundity. Since hibernation is an adaptation for passing over a
period of unfavorable conditions, one might expect it to be commonest in the
Far North. But this is not the case. Hibernation is particularly a phenomenon
of temperate and arid climates; a larger percentage of mammals living in these
climates hibernate than in either arctic or in very warm climates. The following
illustrates the decrease in the number of hibernating mammals as one goes from
the Temperate Zone to the Arctic: In an area in southern Alberta (about latitude
49°), 16 of th d e 55 mammals hibernate; in southern Mackenz i e (about latitude 60°),
9 of the 43 species hibernate; at the Mackenzie Delta on the Arctic Sea, only
5 out of about 36 mammals hibernate; while on the Canadian Arctic Islands, only
1 out of 9 species hibernates (the polar bear), and that only partially.

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While there is great change in the number of hibernating species, going
from north to south, it is not a habitat difference; polar bears, grizzly
bears, ground squirrels, and marmots hibernate north of the timber line, and
one must go some distance south in the forest before the number of hibernators
increases greatly.
It is sometimes said that hibernation is impossible in the Arctic because
with permanently frozen ground the animals cannot find a frost-free place to
hibernate. However, this is obviously not the case, as both ground squirrels
and marmots hibernate near the edge of the Arctic Sea; the polar bear is said
to hibernate in snowdrifts; and farther south, the black bears and certain bats
hibernate in resting places where the temperature of their immediate surroundings
goes below freezing.
A hibernating species usually hibernates for a longer period in the northern
than in the southern part of its range; for example, the black bear in Florida
does not hibernate, in Ontario it goes into hibernation in December, while at
the Mackenzie Delta it goes into hibernation in October. But this does not
hold with the polar bear, which is a partial hibernator in the Hudson Bay area,
but hibernates little, if at all in the northern Greenland.
The age of the animal, its sex, and its physical condition seem to affest
its hibernation. Where the polar bear hibernates, it is said that more females
than males hibernate, or perhaps only gravid females. Of animals that ordinarily
hibernate, such as the grizzly bears, individuals abroad during the winter
are lean, perhaps not having been able to accumulate sufficient fat to enable
them to go to sleep for the winter.
The average dates of mammals going into hibernation and emerging from it
in the spring are not sufficiently well known in the Arctic for us to tabulate.

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Data from elsewhere are not applicable, as this varies locally with climate.
In general, the most profound hibernators retire in the fall and are not
seen again until the spring. Those with the longest period of hibernation
are probably the ground squirrels. In the Arctic they have been recorded
abroad from April to December but these are extreme dates and the average
period of activity is probably May to September at most, for farther south
one species is recorded with a hibernation period of 9 months.
The place of hibernation is usually an underground chamber dug by the
animal and line s d with vegetation, but bears may scratch out only shallow dens,
and polar bears are said to hibernate in snow burrows. The young of the black,
f g rizzly, and brown bears are born while the females are in hibernation, and
suckle and female while she is in a dormant state. Even in the farthest north
where the polar bear hibernates little, the female retires to a snow cave at
the time of the birth of the young and remains there for some time, allowing
the small, weak young to develop somewhat before venturing abroad.
When hibernators emerge in the spring they are still fat, only a small
part of the fat having been used during the winter sleep, and this store of
fat which served so well as insulation during the winter becomes an important
food reserve for the animal until food becomes plentiful later in the spring.
The mammals in our area with long hibernating periods include the bats,
bears (especially the black, grizzly, and brown), badgers, skunks, ground
squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, and jumping mice.
Shelter
Despite the severity of the arctic winter, many of the arctic mammals are
active throughout it, with no more than the sheltered side of a hill, some bushes,
or some rocks to break the wind. Among these are the deer, the musk ox, the

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rabbits, and many of the carnivores. Indeed, for some of these grazing
animals the wind is a friend, for it sweeps the snow from their grazing
grounds.
Many of the mammals that do make tunnels and use shelters apparently do
it as much for escape from their enemies , or for feeding purposes as for
protection from the elements.
Lemmings live much of their lives in burrows, underground or under the
snow, partly correlated with their feeding, partly with their need of pro–
tection from predators, and partly for shelter from the elements. On low
fertile country in northern Greenland, long stretches are quite undermined by
banded lemming tunnels, and sown with their holes. In the depth of winter the
banded lemmings are rarely found above the surface of the snow, rather carrying
on their winter life in the system of passages between the layer of snow and
the surface of the ground. Here they find their food and make their nests.
Only when spring approaches do they begin to wander over the surface of the
snow and then, sometimes, a frozen crust traps the animals, preventing them
from digging down into the snow again, and they perish.
Both food and shelter lead the weasel under the snow in the depth of winter
in the Far North. It digs down through the snow to the system of lemming tunnels,
between the snow and the earth, and , following these, preys on the lemmings. It
has been suggested , that the shelter of the snow blanket protecting these animals
from the cold is essential, and a winter with little snow may prove fatal to
many lemmings and weasels.
The pika of the rocky areas spends most of its life in and about the crevices
of the rocks, only venturing a little distance into the meadows in search of
herbs and grasses and then darting back to shelter. During the winter, with

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its store of food laid by, it does not have to leave the shelter of its rocky
fastness at all. The ground squirrels and the marmots make deep burrow s , about
which their lives center. These may be largely for protection from enemies
in summer, but are also their retreats for the long sleep of winter.
In the taiga, voles and shrews make tunnels and runways through the soil,
the vegetation, and the snow, and generally live in cracks and crannies; but
tiny shrews may be abroad on the snow even when it is far below zero, as their
lacy tracks show. Tree squirrels make warm nests of twigs and fiber in trees
in the more southern parts of the taiga, but in the north depend more on under–
ground burrows for sleeping places. Muskrats and beaver spend much time in the
water and make burrows with underwater entrances; both make dome-shaped “houses”
in the water, but the beaver with its larger size and requirements make s the
more elaborate system. To ensure that there will be enough water for its needs,
the colony of three to ten animals (typically a beaver family consists of the
two adults, the two or three yearlings, and the several young of the year)
make a dam of sticks, other vegetation, and mud, above which a pond full of
water accumulates. Out in this pond, resting on the bottom, the beaver builds
its house of sticks, which may be six feet or more across, and as many high
above the water. Hollowed out inside, above the water level, is the ne x s t chamber,
with an underwater entrance and exit. In winter, the beaver is completely shut
off from the outside world by his frozen roof and the frozen surface of the pond,
and, if it were not for human trappers, it would be most secure from every enemy
and the elements.
Mammals which ordinarily do not use shelters in their everyday lives may
make them for the breeding season, as places in which the young are raised. This
is well illustrated by the deep dens of the wolves and foxes.

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Mammal Interrelationships
In an area where species are few, some close interrelationships between
animals develop, recalling the well-known associations between animals and
plants such as the dependence of the caribou and reindeer on reindeer moss
(lichens) and squirrels on conifer seeds. Wolves follow both caribou and
reindeer herds; the presence of these animals probably makes possible the
presence of wolves on the tundra. The abundance of the arctic fox is so closely
correlated with the abundance of lemmings that the arctic fox increases and
decreases with the increase and decrease in the numbers of lemmings. A natural
check has demonstrated the validity of this: in southern Greenland where there
are no lemmings, the foxes may fluctuate but there is no regular variation in
numbers corresponding to those in the arctic fox in Baffin Island opposite where
lemmings do occur. The patterns in a relationship may vary from place to place,
giving interesting correlations.
The red fox, in Ungava, seems to depend for food on the lemmings and wolves voles ,
with a four-year cycle of abundance; the red fox also has a four-year cycle.
In Ontario, where the fox depends more on the snowshoe rabbit, with a ten-year
cycle of abundance, the fox, too, tends to follow the ten-year cycle of its
favorite prey. The dependence of the lynx abundance on that of the varying hare
has been mentioned under “Fluctuations in Numbers,” p.000.
The mountain sheep is an animal of the mountains, where it can easily out–
distance the wolf. On level country, the sheep is at a disadvantage and it is
probabl y e that the pressure of wolf predation on mountain sheep has been an
important factor in restricting it to its present habitat in the mountains,
and has perhaps been a factor in its evolution as a mountain animal.

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Herds of caribou and reindeer attract arctic foxes, both summer and winter,
and, during the fawning season of reindeer at least, the foxes occasionally
attack weak fawns.
In summer, with lemmings common and easy to secure, the arctic fox lives
bountifully; in winter, with food scarce, the arctic fox may attach themselves
to polar bears and follow them out onto the sea ice, trying to get part of the
meals of the polar bear or taking his leavings, and even eating their badly
digested excrement with voracity. When a polar bear is lying asleep, the
attendant arctic fox may curl up on an ice block nearby.
On the tundra where some hummock makes a resting place and lookout for
birds of prey, their droppings enrich the soil there and the vegetation s grows
more luxuri eua a ntly, making a good feeding place for lemmings. The same has been
recorded for the mounds at the entrance to arctic fox burrows on the Siberia
tundra. An interesting result is that the carnivores unwittingly provide a
good feeding area for lemmings and attract them to places where they are more
quickly found.
When lemmings are plentiful, the wolves may prey entirely on them, leaving
the caribou in peace; thus the lemmings may affect caribou numbers.
Mammals in Relation to Man
Advantages . The mammal life of the sea and the land has made human life
possible in the North. While sea mammals and fish have been an important food
source, some of the natives have depended entirely on land mammals, and all
have drawn heavily on them. The mammals, especially the caribou and the moose,
supplied staple meat, although some Indians used hares extensively and one
group became known as : Hare Indians.” The meat, killed in abundance when the

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animals were plentiful, was eaten fresh, raw or frozen, or cooked; it was
preserved for future use in caches where the cool climate retarded its dis–
integration; and some was wind-dried (by Eskimos) or smoke-dried (by Indians)
for better preservation. To make a still more nourishing and lasting fare,
dried meat was sometimes pounded and mixed with fat to form pemmican that
would keep for years.
No part of the animal was wasted; what is often regarded as waste (the
blood, marrow, and intestines) was eaten, and with the caribou even the con–
tents of the paunch. Not only are “game” animals so used, but even foxes,
wolves, ground squirrels, and lemmings may be eaten. Besides eating the
animals themselves, the Eskimos would sometimes seek, with the aid of dogs,
the roots stored by the voles on the American and Eurasian tundra to add these
tasty items to their own fare.
Not only did the land mammals provide food; they supplied clothing too:
the caribou hide supplied material for warm, light garments, ideal for arctic
winter wear and for which no satisfactory substitute has yet been found. Other
skins were also used, especially polar-bear skins for pants by the Eskimos;
Indians used mooseskin for tanned leather; on occasions an inland mountain–
dwelling Eskimo group might dress completely in sheepskin; skins of marmots
and ground squirrels were also used for jackets and robes, and skins of hares
where woven into robes. The mammals also supplied the material for sewing,
sinews still being the most satisfactory material for sewing skins into clothing.
The sinews and strips of hide provided material for snares and fish nets;
musk-ox horns were spliced together to form bows, and horn and bone were used
for tipping spears.

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In Eurasia, the wild reindeer provided the ancestor of the domestic
reindeer, on which an important culture of the Eurasian tundra exists.
Not only was the land mammal fauna important to the original human in–
habitant, but early traveling white men, explorers, and scientists would have
been unable to make the travels and the studies they did without the caribou
and the musk ox to supply them with meat, and some prospectors in the North
still depend on the country for their meat.
With the advent of traders and the market for furs, the residents of the
Arctic and Subarctic grew to depend on civilization for many things, such as
flour, tea, tobacco, and weapons of the chase. To pay for them, the fur trade
became important and is still the main support of many northern people and
the main economic productiveness of large areas.
Disadvantages . While the land mammals are an important scource of support
for the arctic dweller, they affect man adversely at times.
Unprovoked attacks on man, of course, stand out although they are rela–
tively few in number. Wolves in the New World are not known to attack man
unless the wolf is obviously deranged, though they have been known to kill
sledge dogs wandering too far from camp. In the Old World, however, wolves
have long been a real danger to human life. In Russia, the wolf was man’s
chief enemy in the animal world, and the peasants pronounced a spell on
St. George’s Day as a protection against the wolf. The present-day prejudice
and fear of the wolf in the New World is probably based, in part, upon the very
real fear in which it was held in the Old World.
Bears are always potentially dangerous and especially so when they have
cubs. Probably a bold front will usually avert an attack, but not always.
Richardson, while saying that grizzly bears usually ran away from man, gave

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

one account of a grizzly which molested a party of voyageurs . They “had been
employed all day in tracking a canoe up the Saskatchewan, had seated themselves
in the twilight by a fire, and were busy in preparing their supper when a large
grizzly bear sprang over their canoe…and seizing one of the party by the
shoulders carried him off.” One of the men followed and rescued the bear’s
victim by shooting the bear. The polar bear has been known to come to the
edge of the ice and watch an approaching boat full of hunters with the apparent
intention of throwing itself in among the hunters; the polar bear has been
recorded as stalking humans and killing them apparently for food. However, it
has been suggested that many cases of polar bears approaching humans are the
result of curiosity.
Any large strong mammal may be dangerous at close quarters, but only two
others need mention here. the musk ox has been recorded as making unprovoked
attacks on men, and the bull moose, in the rutting season, occasionally attacks
man.
Where supplies of food are put down in caches for future use, the destruct–
tion of these caches can be extremely serious. On the tundra, polar bears may
do this. They may enter huts, break up boxes, smash cans of meat and eat the
contents, and even drag away the stovepipe. The arctic fox is also a per–
sistent robber of meat caches, squeezing through almost incredibly small
crevices between the stones covering the cache, and the unfortunate travelers
have returned to find their meat supply gone.
On the barrens and in the forest, the wolverine is universally known as
the worst and most persistent robber of caches, cabins, and trap lines. If a
wolverine has time to work undisturbed, there are few caches he cannot enter;
he rolls away heavy stones and logs; he gnaws through fixed timbers; he climbs

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

to elevated caches and excavates buried once. He eats what he can and carries
away not only food but articles he cannot use, such as guns and spyglasses.
Although he is very destructive and very difficult to catch, some northern
dwellers have come to consider a certain amount of wolverine predation as
inevitable, and, like the annoyance of mosquitoes, take this as a matter of
course.
Black bears in the forest country have a deservedly bed name for destroying
unattended camps, breaking open and ravaging cabins, and smashing canoes, doing
much more damage than the mere rifling of the stores would necessitate. Trappers,
returning to their trap lines in the fall, have had their plans seriously upset
by finding a black bear has paid their outfit a visit.
The smaller beasts, shrews, mice, and small carnivores, may all levy toll
on man’s stores. Generally, because of their smaller size, these activities
tend to be more annoying than serious, although red-backed voles have removed
40 pounds of rolled oats in a 3-week period, and squirrels, in addition to
eating delicacies, may take buttons off underwear or chew up clothing for nests.
The only poisonous item in the land mammals of the North is the liver of
the polar bear. It has a probable excessive amount of vitamin A, which may
cause violent sickness when eaten by humans.
SYNOPSIS OF NORTHERN MAMMALS
As stated previously, from the northern Arctic southward, the number of
species tends to increase. Each species has its own tolerance and its own
requirements; the environmental conditions change gradually from tundra to
forest, from northern forest to southern forest. Some mammals have their
headquarters in one or other of the habitats. Others, more common elsewhere,

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

ranging into northern Europe, they barely get north into our area.)
Bats: Chiroptera
These flying mammals are chiefly found in the tropics, where species and
individuals swarm. Insect-eating species would find an abundance of food in
the mosquitoes of the arctic summer, and some more northern species hibernate
or m o i grate. Bats are nocturnal and the lack of darkness in the North may re–
strict their northward range. In America they are rare (genus Myotis ) or
accidental in our area. However, in Eurasia at least one species (genus Eptesicus )
ranges to the arctic coast in the west and onto the tundra in Siberia.
Flesh- E aters or Carnivores: Carnivora
Bears (Family Ursidae) . The white polar bear (genus Thalarctos ), drawing
much of its sustenance from the Arctic Sea, is circumpolar in distribution. The
brown bears of Europe and Alaska and the grizzlies of western North America
(genus Ursus ) range commonly on the barrens and the forest. The black bear of
North America (genus Ursus or Euarctos ) is a forest bear and ranges to the
timber line.
Wolves and Relatives (Family Canidae) . The wolf (genus Canis ), of both
tundra and taiga, is circumpolar. The arctic fox (genus Alopex ), a true polar
animal among those ranging farthest north, is also circumpolar in distribution.
And the red fox (genus ( Vulpes ), very similar in Eurasia and America though
sometimes considered as different species, is a widespread forest animal extend–
ing its range onto the edge of the tundra. In the New World, the coyote ( Canis
latrans ), a more southern animal of open forests and plains, has in recent years
extended its range greatly into our area and now reaches the arctic coast in
the west. In Eurasia, the red dogs (genus Cuon ) of Asia are more southern,
though ranging north to the Amur district of Siberia.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

Cats and Relatives (Family Felidae) . Only the lynx (genus Lynx ), one
species in America and one in Asia, are truly boreal. They are animals of the
taiga ranging into the neighboring tundra in years when they are plentiful. In
America, the puma ( Felis Felis concolor ) strays north almost to our area; in Asia,
the tiger ( Felis tigris ) ranges north only to about the latitude of Lake Baikal.
Weasels and Relatives (Family Mustelidae) . Two species of weasels (genus
Mustela ) are circumpolar: the least weasel and the short-tailed weasel or ermine.
In North America, there is the mink (genus Mustela ) which extends north to timber
line; in Eurasia the kolinsky or yellow weasel, a large brownish weasel (as fur
it ranks just below the mink) extends from the Sea of Okhotsk to European U.S.S.R.
in the forest area; in Europe, the European mink ranges north to the Arctic Sea.
In the New World there are one or two species of marten (genus Martes ); in the
Old World there are two; the sable, ranging from Kamchatka to European U.S.S.R.,
and the pine marten of northern Europe. All are closely related and are largely
geographical representatives. In North America another close relative, the
fisher, barely extends north into our area.
The European badger (genus Meles ) ranges north to reach the Arctic Sea at
the White Sea; the American badger (genus Taxidea ) is more southern.
In North America, the otter (genus Lutra ) of the waterways is a rare
animal of the streams of the forest taiga, extending north to the Mackenzie
Delta; in Eurasia, related species occur.
The wolverine (genus Gulo ) is a circumpolar species group (or two closely
related species), more typical of the taiga but wandering commonly into the
barrens.
The skunk (genus Mephitis ) is a New World group with one species, the
striped skun i k , barely intruding into the southern part of our area.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

Hares, Rabbits, and Pikas: Lagomorpha
Hares and Rabbits (family Leporidae) (family Leporidae) . The arctic hares of North Americ [: ] a ✓ ✓
and the snow hares of Eurasia are all closely related animals (genus Lepus )
of the tundra. In North America, there is also the varying hare or snowshoe
rabbit (genus Lepus ) of widespread distribution in the taiga.
Pikas or Rock Rabbits (Family Ochotonidae) . These small relatives of the
hares (genus Ochotona ) occur in both Eurasia and America. In the New World they
are confined to the mountains of the west; they also occur in the mountains of
Europe and Asia, and north to northern Siberia where they extend nearly to sea
level and the Arctic Sea.
Rodents: Rodentia
Squirrels and Relatives (Family Sciuridae) . Tree squirrels (genus Sciurus )
are common important taiga animals, ranging north to the limit of trees. They
are represented in America by the red squirrel and in Eurasia by the common
squirrel. A flying squirrel (genus Glaucomys ) inhabits the American taiga, and
a distantly related species (genus Pteromys ) occurs in that of Eurasia, going
north of the Arctic Circle.
Chipmunks (genus Eutamias ) are small, active, terrestrial squirrels with
stripes. In America, one species ranges northward into the western part of our
area; in Eurasia, a related species ranges north of the Arctic Circle in Siberia.
In America one species of ground squirrels (genus Citellus ) occurs in the Western Arctic;
in Eurasia related species (called suslik ) range well north in Siberia.
Marmots (genus Marmota ), in America called woodchucks or ground hogs inhabit
the meadows and open forests and extend into our area in the west. The hoary
marmot ranges, in Alaska, north to the mountains facing the Arctic Sea, and in
Siberia and Kamchatka. Other species occur eastward into the mountains of Europe,

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

Beaver (Family Castoridae) . Related species (genus Castor ) occur in
the streams of the taiga of Eurasia and America.
Voles and Relatives (Family Cricetidae) . This family of rodents contains
two subfamilies: the Microtinae (voles and lemmings) and Cricetinae (wood m mice).
The voles and lemmings, small vegetarians, have two circumpolar speci al e s groups
on the tundra: the banded lemming (genus Dicrostonyx ) that changes to a white
winter coat, and the brown lemming (genus Lemmus ) that does not. Other voles,
of the genera Microtus and Clethrionomys (meadow mice or voles, bank voles,
water voles, red-backed voles, etc.) and related forms are plentiful as to
species and individuals in the taiga and spread out onto the tundra of both
the Old and the New Worlds. The most striking of these is the huge (for the
group) muskrat (genus Ondatra ) of the American taiga, which has been introduced
into parts of Eurasia.
The white-footed mice (genus Peromyscus ) of America range through much of
the taiga, and a pack rat (genus Neotoma ) ranges in the mountains of the west.
In Eurasia their place is taken by the distantly related wood mice (genus Apodemus ),
which tend to be more southern.
Jumping Mice (Family Zapodiae) . In America one species intrudes into the
Mackenzie (genus Zapus ); related species in Eurasia are more southern, restricted
to the Chinese area.
American Porcupines (Family Erethizontidae) . The Canada porcupine (genus
Erethizon ), a forest animal, ranges north to the limit of trees. It is a member
of a New World group with headquarters in the American tropics. In the Old World,
the porcupines, belonging to quite another group (family Hystricidae) do not range
as far N north as our area.

EA-Zoo: Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

Hoofed Mammals: Artiodactyla
Deer (Family Cervidae) . Caribou and reindeer of several species (genus
Rangifer ) are the chief deer of the circumpolar tundra and range into the
taiga; the circumpolar species group Alces , called moose in America and elk in
Eurasia, is restricted to the taiga.
In the New World the mule deer (genus Odocoileus ) intrudes into the southern
edge of the taiga; in the Old World the musk deer (genus Moschus ) extends north
almost to the Arctic Circle.
Sheep and Relatives (Family Bovidae) . Mountain sheep (genus Ovis ), in
America, occur only in the west above the timber line; in Kamchatka and the
mountains of Siberia are related species.
Bison of America (genus Bison ), which still exist under protection, used
to extend into the southern part of our area; in Europe the related European
bison or aurochs (wisent) is about extinct.
The musk ox (genus Ovibos ) is an animal of the American tundra, with no
living Eurasian representative. The mountain goat of western American mountains
(genus Oreamnos ) occurs only in the southern part of our area; its relatives are
in the mountains of central Asia and Europe.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Anderson, R.M. “Mammals and Birds,” Bethane, W.C. ed., Canada’s
Western Northland , Ottawa, Patenaud e , 1937, pp.97-122.

2. ----. “Mammif e è res de la Province de Qu e é bec,” Soc. Provancher, Quebec.
Rapport Annuel, 1939, pp.37-111.

3. Anthony, H.E. Field Book of North American Mammals . N.Y., Putnam, 1928.

4. Brehm, A.E. Brehms Thierleben, Allgemeine Kunde des Thierreichs.
Vol. 1. Die S a ä ugethiere. Pts.1-2 . Grosse Ausg. 2.
umgearb. und verm. Aufl. Leipzig, Verlag des
Bibliographischen Institut e s , 1876-77.

5. Hesse, Richard, Alee, W.C. and Schmidt, K.P. Ecological Animal Geography .
N. Y., Wiley; Lond., Chapman & Hall, 1937.

6. Kobelt, Wilhelm. Die Verbreitung der Tierwelt . Leipzig, Tauchnitz, 1902.

7. Miller, G.S. Catalogue of the Mammals of Western Europe (Europe Exclusive
of Russia) in the Collection of the British Museum . Lond.,
The Museum, 1912.

8. Ognev, S.I. Zveri S SSR i Prilezhashchikh Stran; Zveri Vostochnoi Evropy i
Severnoi Azii . (The Mammals of Russia (USSR) and Adjacent
Countries; the Mammals of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia.)
Moscow, Akademii Nauk, S SSR, 1928-40. Vols.1-4.

9. Rand, A.L. Mammals of Yukon, Canada . Ottawa, Cloutier, 1945. Nat.Mus.Can.
Bull . 100.

10. Sclater, W.L. and Sclater, P.L. The Geography of Mammals . Lond., Paul,
Trench, Trübner, 1899.

11. Seton, E.T. Lives of Game Animals . N.Y., Doubleday, 1925-28. Vols.1-4.

12. Simpson, G.G. “Holarctic mammalian faunas and continental relationships
during the Cenozoic,” Geol.Soc.Amer. Bull . vol.58, pp.613-88,
1947.

13. Tate, G.H.H. Mammals of Eastern Asia , N.Y., Macmillan, 1947.

14. Winge, Herlaf. “Gr o ø nlands Pattedyr,” Medd.Grønland , vol.21, pp.319-521,
1902.

A. L. Rand

Amphibians

EA-Zoology
(Karl P. Schmidt)

AMPHIBIANS

PHOTOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS
With the manuscript of this article, the author submitted one photograph
for possible use as illustration. Because of the high cost of reproducing
as halftones in the printed volume, only a small proportion of the photo–
graphs submitted by contributors to Encyclopedia Arctica can be used, at
most one or two with each paper; in some cases none. The number and selection
must be determined later by the publisher and editors of Encyclopedia Arctica .
Meantime all photographs are being held at The Stefansson Library.

EA-Zoology
(Karl P. Schmidt)

AMPHIBIANS
Amphibians and reptiles whose body temperature fluctuates with that of
the environment must be able to hibernate safe from frost. Complete freezing,
i.e., freezing of the heart, kills them. It appears that the extremities of
cold-hardy frogs and salamanders may freeze without permanent injury; and it
is likely that the freezing point of the body fluids, concentrated by the freez–
ing of the extremities, is well below 0°C. Thus, north of the line of perma–
nently frozen subsoil, amphibians find no safe refuge, except in hot spring s .
Cold hardiness in amphibians requires that the development of the eggs, de–
posited in water, may take place at or near the freezing point.
Among amphibians, only two species of frogs range into the Subarctic in
the Western Hemisphere. Both of these reach Great Bear Lake, which is crossed
by the Arctic Circle. These are: Pseudacris migrita septentrionalis , the northern
swamp tree frog, and Rana sylvatica latiremis , the northern wood frog. These
forms are characterized by the shortness of their legs, and they merge with a
uniform gradient of increasing leg length (a geographic cline) into the related
forms at the south. Thus the establishment of a southern limit for the northern
subspecies is entirely arbitrary. In a broad sense the swamp tree frog ranges
south to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and the wood frog to Arkansas.
The swamp tree frog does not appear to be known from Alaska or from Labrador.

EA-Zoo. Schmidt: Amphibians

The wood frog ranges to the Yukon and Mackenzie deltas and has been recorded
also from the Labrador coast at Jack Lane Bay, at about latitude 56° N.; it is
still abundant at Fort Chimo, Ungava Bay, north of 58°.
The Rocky Mountain toad, Bufo boreas boreas , reaches southern Alaska and
the Peace River district of Alberta. A northern race of the American toad,
Bufo terrestris copei , reaches Hudson Bay, as do the mink frog, Rana septentrionalis ,
and the leopard frog, Rand pipiens .
The Old World amphibians that range to the 60th parallel or farther north
include several species of salamanders and frogs and toads.
Salamanders
Hynobius keyserlingii , a salamander with no vernacular name, is found from
the northern Urals to Kamchatka, ranging north of the Arctic Circle at Verkhoiansk.
Triturus cristatus cristatus , the crested newt, inhabits central Europe and
goes as far no r th as 60° N. in Scandinavia and Soviet Russia.
Triturus vulgaris vulgaris , the common European newt, ranges through central
and northern Europe, north to 63° N. in Scandinavia.
Frogs and Toads
Bufo bufo bufo , the common European toad, ranges throughout northern Europe
and Asia, north to the 60th parallel; the eastern limits are unknown.
Rana arvalis arvalis , the moor frog, inhabits northern Europe and Asia,
north to the Arctic Circle. Another subspecies, Rarvalis issaltschikovi , has
been described from Archangel.
Rana ridibunda ridibunda , the common European pond frog, is found in central
Europe and north to th t e 60th parallel in Soviet Russia.

EA-Zoo. Schmidt: Amphibians

Rana temporaria temporaria , the European grass frog, ranges through
central and northern Europe and across Asia to Kamchatka, north to North Cape
in Scandinavia, and to Verkho l i ansk in Siberia.
Of the Old World frogs, the grass frog is by far the most abundant northern
species, ranging well beyond the Arctic Circle. This species is directly related
to the American wood frog.

EA-Zoo. Schmidt: Amphibians

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Boulenger, G.A. The Tailless Batrachia of Europe . London, Ray Society,
1898.

2. Hildebrand, Henry. “Notes on Rana sylvatica in the Labrador Peninsula,”
Copeia , 1949.

3. Mertens, Robert, and Müller, Lorenz. “Die Amphibien und Reptilien
Europas,” [: ] Senckenbergische Naturf.Ges. Abbandl .
no.451, pp.1-56, 1940.

4. Patch, C.L. “Notes on northern woodfrogs,” Copeia , 1949.

5. Schmidt, K.P. “A geographic variation gradient in frogs,” Field Mus.
Nat.Hist. Zool.Ser . vol.20, pp.377-82, 1938.

6. Werner, Franz. “Die nordlichsten Reptilien und Batrachier,” Fauna
Arct ., Jena, vol.4, pp.527-44, 1906.

Karl P. Schmidt

Reptiles

EA-Zoology
(Karl P. Schmidt)

REPTILES

Reptiles in northern climates like amphibians must be able to hibernate
safe from frost or at least from severe frost. It is likely that their north–
ward range can extend only slightly beyond the line of permanently frozen sub–
soil. No reptile appears to range much beyond the 50th parallel in North
America. In the Old World, however, no less than six species range north of
latitude 60° N. and some of these pass the Arctic Circle.
Two of the northern species, the lizard known as the blindworm and the
European viper, hibernate in aggregations, and some of these overwintering
groups are mixed lots of the two species, no doubt with occasional representa–
tives of the smooth snake and perhaps of other species present.
There is an evident advantage of viviparity for breeding in the North, the
gravid mother being enabled to follow the sun and thus maintain herself and her
developing young at a higher temperature than is available for eggs deposited
in the ground. This appears to be correlated with the fact that the two species
that range well beyond the Arctic Circle, the mountain lizard and the viper,
produce living young, as does the blindworm, which ranges nearly as far north.
The scientific and common names of the northernmost reptiles, and their
approximate distributions are given below.
Lizards
Lacerta agilis agilis , the sand or fence lizard, inhabits central Europe
northward beyond 60° N. in Sweden, Finland, and western Soviet Russia.

EA-Zoo. Schmidt: Reptiles of the Arctic Region

Lacerta vivipara , the mountain or viviparous lizard, is found throughout
central Europe across northern Asia to Sakhalin Island, north to North Cape in
the Scandinavian Peninsula and to the Arctic Sea in Soviet Russia.
Anguis fragilis , the blindworm or Blindschleiche , is found in Europe,
north to the Arctic Circle in Sweden and Finland.
Snakes
Natrix natrix natrix , the common European water snake, is found in central
and northern Europe to central Asia, northward in Sweden and Finland to 64° N.
Coronella austriaca austriaca , the smooth snake, exists in Europe, north
to 63° N. in Norway, and north to 64° N. in Sweden.
Vipera berus berus , the common European viper, is located in central and
northern Europe and across northern Asia to Sakhalin Island, and north beyond
the Arctic Circle in the Scandinavian Peninsula.

EA-Zoo. Schmidt: Reptiles

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Hecht, Günther. “Zur Kenntnis der Nordgrenzen der mitteleuropäischen
Reptilian,” Berlin. Univ. Zool.Mus. Mitt . Vol.14,
pp. 501-95, 1929. Text fig. 1-15, pl. 3.

Karl P. Schmidt

Caribou and Reindeer

Caribou

(EA-Zoo. A. W. F. Banfield)

CARIBOU
CONTENTS
Page
Status of Geographical Herds 2
Barren Ground Caribou 2
Alaska Peninsula Caribou 3
Osborn Caribou 3
Stone Caribou 4
Ungava Caribou 4
Polar Caribou 5
Western Woodland Caribou 6
Eastern Woodland Caribou 7
Newfoundland Caribou 7
General Aspects 7
Range 7
Physical Characteristics 8
Habits 9
Disease s 12
Enemies 13
Bibliography 16

EA-Zoology
(A. W. F. Banfield)

CARIBOU
When the prairies of western North America were first explored by white
men, they supported vast herds of bison, which formed the basis of the economy
of the Indian tribes. By 1890, with the advance of agriculture, ranching, and
the transcontinental railway, the bison had been reduced from its millions to
the verge of extinction.
The first explorers to the arctic grasslands of North America also found
innumerable herds of another big-game species — the caribou (Rangifer arc–
tious
). They, too, provided she l ter, clothing, and food for the native popu–
lations of Eskimos and Indians. The bison has been extirpated from its mid–
continental plains habitat with the exception of a few herds in national
parks, but the caribou still roams the arctic prairies in numbers roughly
comparable to primitive conditions, largely because its domain has not yet
been fully exploited by civilization.
The caribou is still the cornerstone of the economy in large areas of
northern North America. It serves primarily as a staple source of food. The
hides supply arctic clothing, beddings, and shelter; other parts, such as
the antlers and sinews, are utilized. Residents of isolated inland settle–
ments in northern Canada and Alaska, both native and white, are largely de–
pendent on the caribou for their continued existence in remote areas.

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

The recent increased interest in northern development in Alaska and
Canada has drawn attention to the precarious state of many bands of caribou.
In the past decade (1940-49), improved northern transportation facilities
and renewed interest in the Arctic have made possible the collection and
publication of data on mammal distribution. It is now possible to take stock
of this important natural resource more accurately than at any previous time.
The present status of North American caribou has been reported by Banfield (3).
The present classification of the genus Rangifer in North America is
generally considered unsatisfactory because of the scarcity of representative
specimens. The most generally accepted classifications are those of Anderson
(1) and Murie (15). They in turn have accepted the work of Jacobi (9). Within
the area covered by this Encyclopedia, nine seven races of four species are recog- ][: Ok FB] Au. O.K?
nized. The present status of these races is discussed below.
Status of Geographical Herds ][: Ok FB]?
Barren Ground Caribou ( Rangifer arcticus arcticus ). This race, which is
by far the most numerous, includes the several large herds of continental
arctic prairie caribou of the Mackenzie and Keewatin Districts of the Northwest
Territories. Basing his calculation on the carrying capacity of the land,
Anderson (2), in 1938, estimated a population of approximately 3,000,000 ani–
mals. A recent preliminary aerial survey (1949) has indicated that, though
present numbers are probably less than this estimate, primitive abundance in
the central portion of their range is still undiminished.
The nomadic migrations of these caribou during the past ten years have
brought them in winter well into the northern portions of the p P rairie p P rovinces
and west to the Mackenzie River valley. In the northeast section of their

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

range, caribou have been greatly reduced in numbers by heavy hunting pressure
of the Eskimos. Over large areas, caribou are reduced to small nomadic bands
which no longer carry out the characteristic summer migrations to and from
the lower arctic islands and peninsulas. According to Manning (12), scattered
bands are still to be found on Melville Peninsula. Caribou are still fairly
plentiful along the arctic coast, from the mouth of the Back River west to
the Horton River. Gavin (7) relates that in the Perry River area large num–
bers appear in the early summer and bear their fawns on small coastal islands.
In recent summers, caribou have occurred in increasing numbers on the Kent
Peninsula and a few have crossed to Victoria Island. On that island, however,
only a few individuals are regularly observed.
According to Manning (12), the population of the species on Southampton
Island has been similarly reduced to isolated bands. Nearly Coates Island,
which has no resident native population, supports a fairly large herd of
caribou from which numbers are taken from time to time by journeying Eskimos.
The caribou population on Baffin Island is found chiefly along the western
coast, bordering Foxe Basin. The Eskimo population is largely distributed on
the eastern and southern shores of the island. Movement of Eskimos to the
western coast to utilize these remaining herds has been intentionally dis–
couraged.
Alaska Peninsula Caribou ( Rangifer arcticus granti ). This race of caribou
occurs, according to Murie (15), from Unimak Island east to Port Heiden and
Becharof Lake.
Osborn Caribou ( Rangifer arcticus osborni ). The Alaska Highway has not
only increased our knowledge of the distribution of this race of caribou in
northern British Columbia and southern Yukon Territory, but has greatly increased

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

its vulnerability to hunters. It seems that these caribou are restricted to
isolated bands inhabiting alpine ranges. The seasonal movements of this race
are altitudinal or local in nature.
In western Yukon Territory this race of caribou occurs, according to
C. H. D. Clarke, in the Kluane Reserve area, from Donjek River north to the
White River, where their range is occasionally overrun by winter incursions
of Stone caribou. To the east, bands occur in central Yukon, along the Canol
Road to the Macmillan Pass (17). S am ma ll bands occur on the Mackenzie District
side of the pass, along the Keele River. An aerial reconnaissance of the
upper Nahanni River, in early 1948, indicated a moderately numerous caribou
population.
Stone Caribou ( Rangifer arcticus stonei ). This is the migratory caribou
of the Alaska mainland and arctic coast, east to the Mackenzie River delta.
According to Murie (15), there are several separate herds in the following
areas: Alaska range, arctic coast , and Yukon-Tanana region. Dufresne (5), in
1942, estimated a population of about 4 5 00,000 caribou in Alaska. More recent
reports suggest a decrease in this number.
There are at present two centers of abundance in the Yukon Territory,
Canada. The northern herds are found on the plains between the mountains
and the arctic coast during the summer. During autumn they migrate south
through the Mackenzie Mountains, west of Aklavik and Fort McPherson, to the
upper Porcupine and Peel rivers. In recent years these herds have shown only
a gradual decline in numbers. In the second center of abundance, west of
Dawson, numbers have been greatly reduced. The Yukon River crossings at Forty - mile,
Dawson, and Stewart are no longer in frequent use.
Ungava Caribou ( Rangifer caboti ). Migratory caribou were formerly

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

abundant on the unforested lands of the Ungava Peninsula and were an important
natural resource for the Eskimos. If the peninsula is considered as a whole,
a gradual decrease in numbers has occurred (13). In several areas the decrease
was comparatively rapid, due in part to emigration. Recent fluctuations in
local populations are believed to be caused by local movements of small herds.
Large forest fires during the latter part of the nineteenth century have
been generally blamed for the decrease in population. Using information ob–
tained by aerial reconnaissance, Manning (11) estimated, however, that only 8
per cent of the caribou lichens were destroyed by fires in the wooded area.
In excellent winter caribou range bordering the treeless country, he saw prac–
tically no sign of fires.
The present range of the Ungava caribou seems to have two fbci of abundance.
On the east side of Hudson Bay, caribou are to be found in small numbers in an
area that extends from the headwaters of the Povungnituk River south to the
Seal lakes, and includes the headwaters of the Larch and Leaf rivers. Bands
also occur in an area that includes the vicinity of the Quebec-Labrador boun–
dary at latitude 56° to 57° N., part of the George River basin, and the upper
Whale River basin.
Polar Caribou ( Rangifer pearyi ). The range of this small white caribou
is restricted to the northern arctic islands. It has suffered less human
interference than any other species of caribou. It was previously thought
it was to be present in considerable numbers over most of its range. Recent explora–
tions, however, have indicated that much of this territory is unsuited for
caribou range because of the lack of vegetation on mountains and the presence
of extensive icecaps.
Polar caribou are reported from Banks Island and no r thern Victoria Island,

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

but the center of abundance seems to be on the islands north of Lancaster
Sound. They occur in some numbers on Prince Patrick and Melville Islands.
On Ellesmere Island, caribou occur in small numbers on the small erosion
plains at the heads of the numerous fjords.
Caribou also are reported from the northwestern coast of Greenland as
far north as the Thule area, but they are practically extinct there now.
Distribution along the west coast ranges from Upernivik District southward
to the Frederikshaab District.
Along Greenland’s northeast coast, caribou have entirely disappeared, — Au: oK? [: Ok FB]
although they were frequent there in former days, notably around Scoresby
Sound, where the Ryder Expedition (1891-92) encountered numerous herds. The
Danmark Expedition (1906-08) found traces of caribou (old, castoff antlers
and ex c rements) as far north as Holm Land (80° 24 w N.), and the First Thule
Expedition (1912) found similar remains as far north as Adam Biering Land
and Vildt Land, at the head of Independence Fjord, southern edge of Peary
Land. The finds of the Thule Expedition have been confirmed by the Danish
Peary Land Expedition (1948-50), as indicated by a preliminary account of its
geographic work given by Fristrup (6). The account states specifically that
caribou formerly inhabited Peary Land. So far, no traces of caribou have
been found in upper Peary Land, that is along its northern shores (10).
Peary, who hunted caribou both on Ellesmere Island and in the Thule
District of northwest Greenland, found that the Greenland specimens differed
somewhat from those on the Canadian side of the Smith Sound route. “I have
seen many winter coats of the Greenland Caribou and they are pronouncedly
darker than the Ellesmere specimens” (16).
Western Woodland Caribou (Rangifer caribou sylvestris). The main centers

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

of abundance of the woodland caribou are south of the region treated in this
Encyclopedia. In the Mackenzie River valley of the Northwest Territories,
woodland caribou occur in small isolated bands. They have suffered from range
destruction by forest fires. Heavy hunting pressure has further restricted
their range to areas remote from settlements and river routes. They are to
be found in the western half of Wood Buffalo Park. A recent aerial reconnais–
sance (1949) has indicated a population of caribou south from the Liard River
to the British Columbia boundary. They are also known from the Trout Lake
area, west of Fort Providence. East of the Mackenzie River they are reported
in the Horn Mountains, the Fish Lake area, and the Willow Lake area.
Eastern Woodland Caribou ( Rangifer caribou caribou ). The eastern woodland
caribou has suffered habitat destruction by agriculture, lumbering, and forest
fires. Its range in North America is no longer continuous, the species having
been reduced to isolated herds. In Labrador, the woodland caribou are reported
from the Cartwright area, the upper Hamilton River valley, and in the Mealy Au: oK? [: Ok FB]
Mountains to the south. In Quebec, there are scattered herds north of the
Gulf of St. Lawrence and in the Rupert River drainage. The discovery of large
deposits of iron ore on the Quebec-Labrador boundary constitutes a new threat
to the survival of caribou in the Ungava Peninsula. A herd occurs in the Gasp e é
Peninsula and in 1949 the population of this herd was estimated at 1,500.
Newfoundland Caribou ( Rangifer caribou terra n enovae ). In the 25,000-
square-mile caribou range in Newfoundland, and estimated number of 15,000 caribou
was reported in 1949. There has been no decrease noted in recent years. The
annual kill by residents is less than 300 animals.
General Aspects
Range . The range of caribou, in general, is farther north than that of

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

Any other member of the deer family (Cervidae) and extends to the northern
limits of land, except that they now appear to be extinct in Peary Land.
The range of the genus Rangifer Rangifer , like that of the wolf, is circumpolar. The
members of the genus in Europe and Asia have been called reindeer; but
recently the tendency, in North America at least, is to restrict the designa–
tion reindeer to the various domestic subspecies, using caribou for the wild
animals.
Physical Characteristics . The caribou is specially adapted to its
northern habitat. The pelage is thick and long and the muzzle is furred.
Another northern deer, the moose ( Alces Americana ), overcomes the difficulty
of deep snow with its long legs. The caribou, moderately long legged, has
little deep snow to contend with north of the tree line. When the caribou
run, the hooves click. If a large herd of caribou is passing by, this
“click-click” noise is loud and distinct.
In fresh autumn coat the caribou are cinnamon-brown with a white neck,
“beard,” and a lateral stripe across the shoulder and along the flank. The
abdomen, rump, tail, nose, and a ring above the ho f o fs are also white. The
legs, chest, and lower flanks are darker brown. By late spring the old coat
is much worn and has become pale-buff in color. At a distance the caribou
then appear almost white. A new dark pelage grows during the summer months.
There is considerable range in the size of caribou in different parts
of northern North America. Differences of size are among the characteristics
that form the basis for separation of the caribou into several races. The
Alaskan races are the largest, while the polar caribou ( Rangifer pearyi ) is
the smallest. Murie (15) states that the average live weight of six Alaskan
males in 366 pounds. The average dressed weight of eighteen males was 247

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

pounds. The females are much smaller. The average total length of male cari–
bou from the interior of Alaska is about 78 inches and the average height of
shoulder is about 46 inches.
Both sexes carry antlers; those of the bucks are much larger than those
of the does. Each antler consists of a main beam which sweeps back and out
from the burr. Close to the burr are two tines which point forward. The
first, which grows medially forward over the face, is called the brow tine.
The two opposite brow tines grow close together and usually one is dominant
and palmate in form. The second tine on the beam is called the bez tine. It,
also, is generally palmate and grows anteriorly. Beyond these two tines the
beam turns sharply up and gives rise posteriorly to the a number of terminal
tines. There is great variation in antler formation; some are palmate,
others more digitate. It is a general characteristic that the beams of cari–
bou ( Rangifer arcticus ) are circular in cross section while those of the wood–
land caribou ( R. caribou ) are generally flattened. The bucks grow and shed
their antlers much earlier than the does.
Habits . Caribou possess a keen sense of smell and rely largely on this
sense for warning of danger. Their eyesight is fair. They notice movements
quickly but can easily be stalked upwind. The normal reaction when they are
suspicious of danger is to circle to a position downwind from the object of
curiosity. They do not seem to associate noise with danger. Caribou are well
known for their insatiable curiosity. When alarmed they flee, but usually
soon pause to look over their shoulders at the intruder. In large numbers
they seem even more curious and bolder and sometimes may be approached closely.
Caribou are strong swimmers and readily cross large bodies of water in
migration. In the water they float with the back and rump above the surface.

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

It is suggested by Clarke (4) that the sound of running water attracts caribou
to shallow crossings.
The caribou uses a variety of gaits. It seems to be a restless animal
by nature. While slowly feeding along a ridge, it will suddenly break into
an easy trot, only to resume a walk again after a few seconds. When alarmed,
the caribou trots with head held high and legs thrown loosely forward and out.
This gait can be changed to a fast pace with which the caribou covers great
distances with seemingly little effort. When fully alarmed, the caribou will
break into a gallop, but this gait is never maintained for a long period.
During the summer the bucks put on considerable back fat before the rutting
season, which takes place during the autumn. Murie (14) observed small bands
of does, each with a buck in charge, during the period September 14 to October
7. When the rut is on, the big bucks hard the does, spar with opponents, and
often neglect to eat. This means that they enter the winter in poor condition.
In Alaska the fawns are born between May 15 and June 15. They are reddish in
color, with a black muzzle and dorsal line, and lack the spots of other fawns
of the deer family. This coat fades to a buff color in July. A little later
this coat is lost and fawns take on a darker coat similar to that of the adults.
The fawns are precocious and soon follow their mothers. Within a few days
they can run as fast as the does, and by midsummer they are grazing for them–
selves. The caribou does are solicitous mothers and seldom desert their young
when in trouble.
During the short arctic summer, when the herds are on the open lands
beyond the tree line, their food consists chiefly of green forage. During
this season, the caribou seem to feed chiefly by browsing — stripping the
leaves from the shrub willows ( Salix sp.), birth ( Betula glandulosa ), and

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

bilberry ( Vaccinium uliginosum). They also graze on the grasses and sedges
in the arctic swales. Typical plants utilized are: bent reed grass ( Cala–
magrostis
sp.), bluegrass ( Pea sp.), sedges (Carex sp.), and cotton grass
(Erøophorum sp.). In late summer, mushrooms are eaten when found.
During the winter, lichens assume the major role in the caribou diet.
The caribou easily paw through the snow to secure the ground vegetation. Some
of the more important lichens are: Cladonia , Cetraria , Usnea , and Alectoria .
Dried grasses, the leaves and twigs of many heaths, such as bearberry (Arcto–
staphylos
sp.) and crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), and the twigs of shrubs, such
as willow ( Salix sp.) and aspen ( Populus tremuloides ), are also eaten.
Local movements seem to be governed by the food supply and the avail–
ability of routes of travel. The lichens which from the major portion of
the winter diet of caribou may take as long as fifteen to twenty years to
recover from heavy utilization. Long migrations are a common characteristic
of the caribou in North America. Along the routes the terrain is covered with
parallel trails which the caribous follow in single file.
The populations of aborigines have learned to depend on these seasonal
movements for their supplies of meat and clothing. Many theories have been
advanced to explain to movements of the caribou. Marie (14) states that
the migrations are probably due to several factors. There is the midsummer
search for fresh feeding grounds, then the change from the grassy summer
ranges to the winter lichen range. Coupled with these factors, the rutting
activity stimulates movements in the autumn and the animals retrace ancestral
routes through habit. In the spring there is a tendency to leave the forest
because of the desire for a change to a grass diet and the urgency of the ap–
proaching fawning season.

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

Disease s . Caribou are subject to a variety of parasitic diseases. The
most extensive parasitic condition of the caribou herds is that caused by the
warble fly (Oedemagena tarandi). The warble fly is a large orange-and-black
beelike fly which deposits its eggs on the hair of caribou during the summer.
The larvae hatch, bore through the skin, and, by autumn, have moved to the
back region. Here they become encapsulated under the skin, with small breathing
holes through the skin. By May, the larvae are about three-quarters of an
inch long. When mature, they enlarge the breathing holes and squirm through,
dropping to the ground, where they pupate. From the pupae the adult flies
emerge early in the summer. The effect of a heavy infection of warble larvae
is to render the hide useless for clothing during a large part of the year.
A second parasitic fly which attacks caribou is the nostril fly (Cophe-
[: u: for trompe?][] Hadwen(1922) gives both for reindeer I dont know! FR nemyia nasalis). This is a large, dark fly. The larvae are deposited in the
nostrils during the summer by the adult fly, which is viviparous. These
migrate backward and lodge in the nasopharyngeal region. By early spring
they have become much enlarged and form tight clusters in the throats of the
animals. Caribou are often observed coughing and sneezing at this period,
probably because of the discomfort due to the presence of these larvae. The
larvae detach themselves and drop out early in the summer, to pupate on the
ground, where they develop into adult flies.
In the Arctic, there is a close association between many of the large
mammals, including man, through a predator-prey relationship. Several para–
sitic flatworms seem to have taken advantage of this close relationship to
complete their complicated life histories. Thus the tapeworms ( Taenia hy–
datigena
, T. krabbei, and Echinococcus granulosus), which occur as adults in
the intestines of wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs, appear as larval bladder-
worms in the livers, lungs, and muscle of caribou. The predators become

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

parasitized by feeding on the infected caribou which had previously become
parasitized by eating eggs of the tapeworms washed out of wolf or other f a eces
onto the vegetation.
The close relationship of natives to both caribou and their domestic dogs
has introduced the possibility of a secondary cycle, including man, which is
distinct from the natural caribou-wolf-caribou cycle.
Several other diseases have been observed among caribou. Hadwen (8) (7a)
recorded an infestation of a protozoan of the Sarcosporidia order. Murie (14)
reported findings skulls showing necrosis of the jawbones. It seems very likely
that caribou suffer from a disease similar to necrotic stomatitis.
There is some loss of life due to accidents. Waterfalls and rapids
take a natural toll during migrations. Clarke (4) reported the findings of
more than 500 carcasses at the foot of a falls on the Hanbury River in the
Northwest Territories.
Enemies . With the exception of man, the wolf is the most important preda–
tor of caribous throughout the greater portion of their range. In recent years
North American caribou have undergone serious reductions in range and popula–
tions. In several cases, the ranges are no longer continuous and the isolated
herds are vulnerable to extirpation.
It is popularly believed that wolf predation has been the major factor
in the caribou decrease. This view, when subjected to critical analysis, can–
not be maintained. In many areas the decrease in caribou started before any
local influx of or increase in wolves. It seems significant that the Barren-
Ground caribou, which has had less contact with civilized man than the majority
of other races, still occurs in numbers comparable to those found under prim–
itive conditions, in spite of the presence of a relatively uncontrolled wolf

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

population. It should also be remembered that caribou and wolves shared
the same arctic ranges for countless years before the arrival of European
man, yet the latter found caribou there in abundance.
Wolves take their greatest toll of caribou during the winter months, when
they follow the migrating herds. During the summer months there is less wolf
pressure on caribou because of the presence of other forms of prey, such as
waterfowl and other nesting birds on the grasslands, ground squirrels ( Citel
lus parryii ), and the young of other mammals, such as arctic hares ( Lepus
arcticus ), arctic foxes ( Alopex sp.), and lemmings ( Lemmus sp.). These animals
act as buffer species between the wolf and the caribou. Au: OK? Ok FB
The second period when the caribous is particularly vulnerable to predation
is during the fawning season. During the first week of their lives, caribou
fawns are most vulnerable to the attacks of wolves ( Canis lupus ), as well as
coyotes ( Canis latrans ), lynx ( Lynx canadensis ), and golden eagles ( Aquila
chrysaëtos ). There are doubtful claims that the wolverine ( Gulo luscus ) preys
on fawns and extremely doubtful ones that the grizzly bear ( Ursus sp.) does too.
Although all these predators, but not including the wolf, manage to capture a
few fawns at this season, these animals are so few in numbers and local in
distribution as to have little effect on the survival of the caribou herds as
a whole. Observations of grizzly bears and golden eagles hunting newborn fawns
are given by A. Murie (14) and observations concerning the relation of the lynx
to the caribou are given by O.J. Murie (15). Clarke (4) has estimated that a
single wolf kills, on the average, twelve caribou per year, but that would be
for sections where the wolf has many sorts of provender. In the Far North,
where the caribou is practically the only food available through two-thirds of
the year, the rate would be higher.

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

Since the writings of Darwin, the theory of the survival of the fittest
has achieved wide acceptance. In removing the less-fleet caribou, which are
usually the aged, sick, or injured animals, the predator benefits the species
by improving the stock. When wounded or aged animals are commonly observed
hobbling in the rear of a migrating herd of caribou, one can justifiably con–
clued that the wolf pressure is not excessive.
Harper (8) has pointed out the interesting fact that the Queen Charlotte
Island and Spitsbergen were the only areas where the caribou did not share
their range with the wolf. The races of caribou inhabiting these areas were
the runts of the tribe. The Queen Charlotte Islands caribou ( Rangifer arcticus
dawsoni ) is believed to be extinct. In achieved this status without the as–
sistance of the wolf.

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Anderson, R.M. Catalogue of Canadian Recent Mammals . Ottawa, 1946.
Nat. Mus. Can. Bull . 102. Biological Ser . no.31.

2. ----. “The present status and distribution of the big game mammals of
Canada,” North American Wildlife Conference, 3d.
Baltimore, 1938. Trans . pp.390-406.

3. Banfield, A.W.F. “The present status of North American caribou,”
North American Wildlife Conference, 14th, Washington,
1949. Trans . pp.447-91.

4. Clarke, C.H.D. A Biological Investigation of the Thelon Game Sanctuary .
(Ottawa, Patenaude, 1940.) Nat.Mus.Can. Bull . No.96.
Biological Ser . No.25.

5. Dufresne, Frank. Mammals and Birds of Alaska . Wash.,G.P.O., 1942.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv. Circ . No.3.

6. Fristrup, Børge. “A preliminary account of geographical work of the
Danish Peary Land Expedition,” Geogr.Tidsskr . vol.49,
pp.41-66, 1948/49.

7. Gavin, Angus. “Notes on mammals observed in the Perry River district,
Queen Maud Sea,” J.Mammal . vol.26, no.4, pp.226-30, 1945.

7a. Hadwen, Seymour, and Palmer, L.J. Reindeer in Alaska . Wash.,G.P.O., 1922,
p.68. U.S. Dept.Agric. Bull . no.1089

8. Harper, Francis. Land of the Caribou . Natural History Magazine, 1949.
Manuscript. 18(5): 224-231, 239 vol. 18,no.5, pp. 224-231, 239, 1949.

9. Jacobi, Arnold. “Das Rentier, eine Zoologische monographie der Gattung
Rangifer,” Zoologischer Anz . B.96. Erganzungaband . 1931.

10. Jensen, Ad.S. “The fauna of Greenland,” Greenland. Commission for the
Direction of the Geological and Geographical Investiga–
tions in Greenland. Greenland, Vol.1. The Discovery
of Greenland, Exploration and Nature of the Country .
Editors: M. Vahl (and others). Copenhagen, Reitzel;
Lond., Milford, 1928, pp.320-23.

11. Manning, T.H. “Bird and mammal notes from the east side of Hudson Bay,”
Canad.Field Nat . vol.60, no.4, pp.71-85, 1946.

EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou

12. ----. “Notes on the coastal districts of the eastern barren-grounds and
Melville peninsula from Igloolik to Cape Fullerton,”
Canad.Geogr.J . vol.26, pp.84-105, 1943.

13. ----. “Preliminary report on a background study of the caribou,” Quebec.
Assoc. for the Protection of Game and Fish. Annual Report
vol.80, pp.20-21, 1948.

14. Murie, Adolph. The Wolves of Mount McKinley . Wash.,G.P.O., 1944. U.S.
National Park Service. Fauna of the National Parks of the
United States. Fauna Series
no.5.

15. Murie, O.J. Alaska-Yukon Caribou . Wash.,G.P.O., 1935. U.S. Biological
Survey. North American Fauna no.54.

16. Peary, R.E. Nearest the Pole . Lond., Hutchinson, 1907.

17. Rand, A.L. Mammal Investigations on the Canol Road, Yukon and Northwest
Territories, 1944 Territories, 1944 . Ottawa, 1945. Nat.Mus.Can. Bull . 99.
Biological Ser . No.28.

A. F W . W F . Banfield
Economic Zoology of Caribou

EA-Zoology
(Olaus J. Murie)

ECONOMIC ZOOLOGY OF CARIBOU
From early times, throughout the world, venison has been a favored
food for primitive people. Not only have the members of the deer family
served as food for man, ancient and modern, but they have contributed
importantly to the diet of large carnivores. Probably in adjustment to
this ecological state of affairs, the deer of the world have developed
characteristics such as speed, alertness, large [: ] size, or fecundity,
or combinations of these, to meet the hazards of their environment.
In their special adaptations, the caribou of the Arctic and Subarctic
are unique in several respects. In response to the rigors of their climate
they have developed an unusually warm cost of hair, with hairiness extending
even over the nose. Instead of the trim feet of southern deer, they grew
rounded hoofs that spread when necessary, the better to walk on snow or boggy
ground. They respond to cold with heavy layers of fat. And they exist
in large herds. Incidentally, for some reason, the females bear antlers,
and even the fawns grow spike antlers in the first summer.
Some fo of these are the very zoological attributes that have been such a
boon to man in the Arctic. The caribou skin makes warm clothing; the
excessive fat is a godsend to fat-hungry man in the winter cold; and the
fact that caribou run in herds, and normally are numerous, makes it possible

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

to depend on them as a source of food. I say this as a general rule, having
in mind that not always have the herds been dependable in specific instances!
To begin with, the north country of America was people s d by two principal
groups, The Eskimos were primarily a coastal people, finding much of their
subsistence in the sea, though taking advantage of the caribou and other
land animals at every opportunity. In exceptional instances Eskimo groups
live d inland, away from the sea. The North American Indian was a man of the
forested country (and the southern plains and deserts). There was accordingly
a different human eco p l ogy for the coastal Eskimo and the Indian of the
northern forest. The two peoples were not entirely exclusive of each other,
and their interests clashed, with some hostility, at the borders of their
natural territories.
For both of these ethnic groups the caribou had an economic significance
in many respects similar to that of the bison for the Plains Indian farther
south. Both animals traveled in herds, wore numerous, and furnished an
important source of food, clothing, and shelter.
With the crude weapons at first available to them both Eskimos and
Indiana found it necessary to summon great ingenuity to capture the animals.
The bow and arrow were, of course, standard equipment for stalking game.
Among the Eskimos, at least, this had its drawbacks in open country, but
by various ruses, taking advantage of the animal’s temporary curiosity,
or its grazing habits, or some local topographic features, the hun g t er
was able to get within bow-shot of caribou.
But driving was a favorite method. The process has been described in
several variations, but essentially the plan was as follows. The hunters
would choose an area frequented by caribou, such as a migration route, and

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

there two lines of cairns were placed, consisting of rocks, piles of turf,
perhaps topped with sticks and even with a piece of garment that would
flutter. These lines would converge on a narrow defile, or the shore of a
lake. As the animals wandered between the two “wings” of the trap, hesi–
tating to approach those prominent objects on either side, women and
children might appear from behind the cairns the animals had already passed.
As the caribou moved on, urged from behind, more people appeared, until the
animals came into the narrows where concealed hunters had an opportunity to shoot,
or into the water where hunters in kayaks would dart out after them and
spear the swimming animals. Large numbers were sometimes killed by this
method.
In various localities snare fences were built. In northwestern Alaska
it is reported that snares were sometimes simply placed in gaps between
willows, where caribou were accustomed to pass. But in interior Alaska, in
the Tenana and upper Yukon region, long pole fences were erected across
well-known migration routes, sometimes extending for several miles. At
intervals there was a gap in the fence, in which was place a twisted raw–
hide snare. As late as 1921 I saw some of these snare fences still in good
repair, the poles and posts being held firmly with willow withes. One of
these led directly to the old corral, where the animals were at one time
thus guided into a definite trap. When thus enclosed they were shot by
arrows, or sometimes speared through the bars with a knife fastened at
the end of a pole.
In this general area there were also lookouts for spying migratory
g herds. One of these was a platform built high in a spruce, with the limbs
cleared away for an unobstructed view. Another, more elaborate structure,

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

was built of poles tied with willows, in the form of a huge stepladder with
a platform on top.
Snare fences were reported also by Lowe (3) near Boulder Creek, in
Copper River Valley, and a reindeer herder reported snare fences formerly
built by Eskimos in the lower Kuskokwim River region. In 1920 at least five
caribou were caught in snare fences near Tanana Crossing; in this case old aban–
doned telegraph line was used for snares. As late as 1926 rawhide snares
were still being used on the Old Crew River, in norther n Yukon Territory,
mostly by the old men or hunters lacking ammunition. MacFarlan d e (4) speaking
of woodland caribou of the Northwest Territories, remarks that at one time
Indians used twisted rawhide snares to capture them, and that the Indians
near Fort Anderson, on Anderson River, obtained a few of the barren ground
caribou in the same manner. Similar snare fences were used in parts of
Alaska to capture moose.
These we d r e the primitive methods by which the Eskimos and Indians
supplied their needs. The meat was a staple, obtainable at certain seasons
in quantity. Seals, walrus, fish, and rabbits were the other more or less
dependable food resources of these northern people.
The caribou meat was eaten fresh or dried. The contents of the rumen,
rich with lichen remains, were eaten fresh or, when possible, frozen and
stored for future use. The colon was relished, and it may be significant
that this is also sought out by certain carnivores. The marrow of the bones
was greatly enjoyed, and of course the quantity of fat which the caribou
accumulates in the fall is a prize in the North. I have never found caribou
meat tough, and a large fat bull is excellent eating. The meat has a high
water content and some of us who drove dogs found that twice as much caribou
meat was required by a sled dog as compared with mou n tain sheep meat. (The
latter was fed to dogs only in real emergency.)

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

Caribou skins were universally used for clothing — warm park [: ] s,
leggings, moccasins, mittens, and other miscellaneous a d r ticles. In the
Hudson Bay country I found that moose-hide moccasins were somewhat warmer
in the cold dry snow but that caribou-hide moccasins were better moisture
repellents when the weather was somewhat warmer and the snow was damp. In
Hudson Bay, also, the Indians used the unborn caribou fawns for food, and
made light caps the bags from their skins. Caribou rawhide, or babiche,
was used for the wea b v ing of snowshoes, and hides were used for tents.
Caribou antlers were used for many handy tools. Possibly no other northern
animals has produced a greater variety of economic uses for the original
inhabitants of the North. Add to this the fact that this hardy deer inhabited
some of the most “barren” portions of the Arctic, and it will be realized T w hat
an important animal this proved to be in arctic economy.
Stefansson (11) has given us a dramatic example of some of the bleakness
of the surroundings in which you might find caribou in the northern fringes
of its range. He had reached Isachsen Land with two of his companions
seriously ill. “I walked that day twenty miles across one of the very few
stretches of entirely barren land that I have seen in the Arctic. Underfoot
was gravel without a blade of grass.” Yet next morning (in a more favorable
grazing area) he came on a band of caribou, which saved the day for his party.
Here was a group of men, exploring some of the northern fringes of our con–
tinent, reaching into the polar sea, where one might expect little life to
be found. Yet there were caribou.
Caribou are not always dependable, or predictable, and Indians have on
occasion suffered hardship through the un d c ertainties and vagaries of caribou
movements. They are erratic travelers and while generally they follow

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

established routes, they may be slow in arriving, they may veer away from
a former course, or they may not go as far as in former years.
In the early spring of 1921 I reached Tanana Crossing, in Alaska, and
found that the Indians were having a difficult time. They were awaiting
the caribou herds which come back over the Alaska Range to drop their fawns
in the Tanana River country. Fish were scarce and I was having great diffi–
culty in obtaining food for my dogs. Finally, on April 28, the caribou same —
long lines of them leading down the snowy slopes into the valley of the Tanana.
The Indian village came to life and soon caribou meat was hung to dry on
numerous racks, something like fourteen or fifteen per family. It is often
famine or feast in caribou country.
With the coming of the whi l te man in the North, and his rifle and trade
goods, the caribou-man ecology changed. For the explorer, the whaler, the
trader, and particularly the pioneer trapper and prospector, caribou meat
became a staple food. Hunting became easier. The native people relinquished
their primitive methods and accepted firearms, and they were able to kill
more game. They killed more than they needed, and found it profitable to
supply the white men. The annals of the North are filled with accounts of
barter in caribou meat and skins. In the enthusiasm over the new hunting
facilities, many animals were wasted.
E. W. Nelson (6) writing of the Bering Sea coast of Alaska, said:
“When the Americans first obtained control of the Territory firearms were
unknown among the natives, and when the natives first obtained guns they
kept the traders supplied with meat at the rate of two charges of powder and
ball for a dear. One winter, just preceding the transfer of the Territory, an
enormous herd of Reindeer [caribou[ passed so near St. Michaels that a

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

6-pounder loaded with buckshot was fired at them, killing and wounding a
number of them.”
Speaking of Alaska Peninsula and adjacent coasts, he says further”
“In the summer of 1880 one men from Point Barrow took about five hundred
skins, and many others took nearly as large a number. Only a few stragglers
now remain on the Kaviak Peninsula and in the country between the Yukon and
Kuskokwim Rivers.”
Again: “When Mr. Dall came down the Yukon in the spring of 1867, he
saw over four thousands skins of reindeer fawns hanging up in a village near
Anvik, and at present scarcely half a dozen deer, old and young, are [: ] r t aken
yearly in that district.
“The skins taken in summer are valued at about one dollar each among the
fur traders, who buy them in one part of the country and trade them for furs
in other parts.”
James Wickersham (12) writes of interior Alaska in 1900: “Captain
Farnsworth, then in command at Fort Egbert, had established a hunting camp
on the divide between Mission creek on Forty Mile river, about fifty miles
from Eagle, and had sent hunters and a squad of soldiers there to kill
caribou for the post.” Mr. Wickersham mentions seeing fifty caribou hung
on racks.
Osgood (7) reports that in the fall of 1901, in east central Alaska, a
white man killed 62 caribou in one day, and immediately afterward a party of
Indians killed 42. Next day a hunter killed 7 cripples in that vicinity and
followed the bloody trail of the herd for some miles.
Edward A. Preble (8) referring to the report of A. J. Stone, says:
“He considers that the animals are fast being exterminated in that quarter

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

[east of the Mackenzie River delta], principally on account of the demand
for meat at the trading posts, and at the wintering places of the whalers
along the Arctic coast.”
MacFarlane (4) commented: “In the course of the company’s five year
occupation of Fort Anderson, we received considerable quantities of venison
and many skins of the Barren Ground reindeer from the Eskimos and Indians
who reported thereto for purposes of trade.”
In 1917, at Fort Chimo, Ungava Bay, I learned that the Naskapi Indians
would occasionally bring some caribou meat to the trading post, th r ough these
animals had already become extremely scarce on the Labrador Peninsula. Our
party had crossed through the interior without seeing one. Three years later,
in interior Alaska, I found that mountain sheep, moose, and caribou were
being sold to the construction camps along the route of the government Alaska
Railroad. At the restaurants in the towns one could order moose or caribou
from the menu. A number of years previously professional hunters had been
supplying caribou to the local markets, and one of these men gave me many
details of their hunting technique.
Originally the numbers of caribou were more or less in adjustment with
their environment, which included the scattered human population using
primitive weapons. When the white pioneers came into the North — explorers,
whalers, traders, prospectors, trappers, adventurous souls with that innate
urge to experience what lies beyond — bringing with them more lethal weapons
and a large market for game, the drain on the caribou herds became greater
than their population dynamics could withstand. Still later came the more
permanent settlements, with increase of white population. Today even a
grater influx of people is taking place, with roads, railways, and aircraft.

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

Thus the original prospect in northern lands has virtually disappeared.
Industrial civilization is reaching northward, with modern convenience and
huge demand on natural resources.
It must be kept in mind that during the early pioneer period the caribou
served on important purpose. W ti it hout the caribou — a herd animal existing
in large numbers — with its potential for abundant meat and materials for
clothing and similar necessities, life in the North would have been much
more difficult. Even today, in much of the territory, caribou contribute
importantly to the personal economy of many people — Eskimos, Indians, and
whites.
However, no longer does the supply appear inexhaustible. The caribou
have completely disappeared from many areas, such as the extensive portions
of Alaska bordering on Bering Sea, and the area east of the Mackenzie River
delta. The woodland caribou has disappeared from former ranges in northern
states and parts of lower Canada, and they have become extremely rare on the
Labrador Peninsula. In many other areas they are reduced in numbers.
In Siberia and northern Europe the reindeer was domesticated long ag l o,
so extensively that in parts of their former range wild reindeer are scarce
or no longer exists. The North American caribou were never domesticated.
But with the disappearance of the wild caribou in the areas bordering on
Bering Sea, domestic reindeer from the Old World were substituted, together
with Lapp herders to instruct the Eskimos. In many ways this was a help to
the Eskimo, but there is much confusion about the project. Proper reindeer hording
requires a nomadic life.
Consider, for example, the natural feeding habits of caribou. In my
study of the Alaska-Yukon caribou (5) some years ago, I came to the following

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

conclusions: “…the fact that the caribou do not linger in any one locality,
but are nearly always on the move, keeps them distributed over a wide territory
and tends to preserve their winter food.”
Studies conducted by the U.S. Biological Survey in the nineteen twenty’s
indicated that the lichen growth, so beneficial for caribou and domestic
reindeer, once it is destroyed requires about as long to recover as does a
destroyed forest. These considerations led me to suggest further in my
published report (5):
“Apparently each species adopts a particular migratory habit to suit
its food requirements. In the case of the caribou the need appears to be an
avoidance of concentration, and the need for greater dispersal of the caribou
has been met by greater restlessness, resulting in a greater and more varied
migration. Throughout its circumpolar range, the caribou normally seeks
lichens for winter forage, and throughout its entire range it is a wanderer.
These two facts appear to be related, and in the absence of any other solution
it seems reasonable to conclude that the caribou’s peculiar taste has made the
species the restless wanderer that it is.”
It may prove to be a fact that the Alaskan reindeer ranges are overgrazed.
Certain white owners undertook to raise domestic reindeer for market, and
since commercial enterprise naturally requires large quantity for profit,
such operations no doubt provided an additional impact on the native caribou
herds and the original range.
It is axiomatic that a reindeer industry and wild caribou herds cannot
occupy the same area. The migratory caribou draw with them on their journey
sizable numbers of reindeer that are thus lost to the owner. For this reason,
in reindeer territory it has been the custom to attempt to eliminate any

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

stray caribou that come into the range of the domestic animals.
At one of the sessions of the International Technical Conference on the
Protection of Nature, meeting at Lake Success under the auspices of UNESCO
in the summer of 1949, a Canadian delegate introduced the subject of preserv–
ing some of the Canadian species of caribou, particularly those of the
Labrador Peninsula. There has been consideration of substituting the domestic
reindeer. To meet this difficulty some considerations of caribou biology may
be worth while.
There has been the belief that the North American caribou, being migratory,
cannot be domesticated. Yet I have seen a caribou calf, pretty well grown
when it was captured in the fall, so thoroughly tamed in less than two weeks
that it would follow its owner about like a dog. An elk calf, caught when
a few days old in the highly migratory Jackson Hole elk herd in Wyoming,
grew up perfectly tame and, although up to more than four years of age it
had perfect freedom and in winter mingled with the wintering wild elk, it
never showed any desire to migrate.
In areas where native caribou have been reduced to dangerous levels,
experiments would be worth while to raise a herd of the animals native to
that area, rather than replacing the remnant with the domestic reindeer.
It is entirely possible that the native caribou could be given sufficient
domestication for controlled herding as in the case of domestic reindeer.
Such a procedure would tend to insure the perpetuation of the native stock,
a serious consideration among the many people, scientists as well as other
groups of conservationists, whose aims are typified by those of the
International Union for the Protection of Nature. Under such a plan escapes
from the domestic herd would find their own kind, and there would be the

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

hope of restoring the original wild population.
Wolves, disease, and perhaps other factors have always been a drain on
the caribou herds. These cannot be ignored. But the most critical of all
factors, as we have found in modern game management, is the destruction of
habitat. In the future, if it is our decision to retain the caribou, there
must be such land-use planning that proper range, extensive range, may be
designated for caribou. The more intensive types of land use could well be
segregated into the more favorable areas. The caribou ranges thus preserved
could be dedicated to multiple use, of the kinds not incompatible with the
needs of caribou. Such uses would be the wilderness type of recreation
(which is being given so much attention today among conservationists), certain
field sports, scientific studies, particularly in ecology, preservation of
other wildlife that shares similar habitat, and like categories.
By proper planning and suitable regulations, caribou may still be an
economic asset to many people, and of great recreation value as well.

EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Boas, Franz. “The Central Eskimo,” U.S. Bureau of Ethnology. Annual
Report , 6th, 1884-’85. Wash., G.P.O., 1888, pp.409-669.

2. Jenness, Diamond. “The life of the Copper Eskimos,” Canadian Arctic
Expedition, 1913-1918. Report, vol.12, pt.A, pp.1-277, 1922.

3. Lowe, P.G. “From Valdez Inlet to Belle Isle, on the Yukon,” Glen, E.F.,
and Abercrombie, W.R. Reports of Explorations in the
Territory of Alaska (Cooks Inlet, Sushitna, Copper, and
Tanana Rivers) 1898 . Wash., G.P.O., 1899, pp.353-87.
U.S. War Dept. Adjutant General’s Office. Doc . no.102.
Military Intelligence Div. Publ . no.25.

4. MacFarlan d e Roderick. Notes on Mammals Collected and Observed in the
Northern Mackenzie River District, Northwest Territories of
Canada, with Remarks on Explorers and Explorations of the
Far North . Wash., G.P.O., 1905, U.S.Nat.Mus. no.1405.

5. Murie, O.J. Alaska-Yukon Caribou. Wash., U.S. Dept.Agriculture, Bur. of
Biological Survey, 1935. North American Fauna no.54.

6. Nelson, E.W. Report upon Natural History Collections Made in Alaska
between the Years 1877 and 1881. Wash., G.P.O., 1887.
U.S. Army. Signal Service. Arctic Series of Publications no.3.

7. Osgood, W.H. Biological Investigations in Alaska and Yukon Territory .
Wash., G.P.O., 1909. North American Fauna .no.30.

8. Preble, E.A. A Biological Investigation of the Athabaska-Mackenzie Region .
Wash., G.P.O., 1909. North American Fauna no.27.

9. Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. The Friendly Arctic . N.Y., Macmillan, 1921.

10. ----. Hunters of the Great North. N.Y., Harcourt, Brace, 1922.

11. ----. My Life with the Eskimo . N.Y., Macmillan, 1913.

12. Wickersham, James. Old Yukon. Wash., Washington Law Book Co., 1938.

Olaus J. Murie
Reindeer Herding in Canada

EA-Zoology
(Richard Finnie)

REINDEER HERDING IN CANADA
The first successful experiment in reindeer husbandry in Canada began
in the spring of 1935, when 2,370 animals from Alaska were delivered to a
reserve at the east side of the Mackenzie Delta. Despite many difficulties
and setbacks, the reindeer steadily increased and, by 1947, numbered 6,400,
even though between 3,000 and 4,000 had be slaughtered for food and
clothing during the intervening years, and still others had strayed away.
In 1908, Dr. Wilfred Grenfell established 250 Lapland reindeer at
St. Anthony in northern Newfoundland; within ten years they had increased
to 1,200 but had begun scattering for lack of attention. In 1918, all that
were still available, 126, were given to the Canadian Government and moved
to the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near St. Augustin, Quebec.
At first they multiplied, but here again inadequate care took its toll and,
in 1923, the 145 remaining were shifted to Anticosti Island and liberated.
There they were stricken with disease and, by 1941, only 9 were left.
This was not the first attempt to introduce reindeer into Canada.
Back in 1911, the Department of the Interior had bought 40 breeding does,
6 stags, and4 geldings (to be trained as draft animals) from the Grenfell
herd at St. Anthony, and had shipped them to Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.
The journey was a hard one for them: by boat to Quebac k , by train to Edmonton,

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

by wagon to Athabaska Landing, and by scow to the Fort Smith vicinity.
Fifteen died on the way from injuries or lack of suitable food. By the
fall of 1913, only three were left, one having been killed by dogs, the
rest having taken to the woods when tormented by flies or having succumbed
to some undiagnosed malady.
In 1918, the same year that the ill-starved experiment was being under–
taken in Quebec, Vilhjalmur Stefansson returned from five years in the
Arctic with the conviction that there lay an opportunity to develop a vast
new source of wealth with domesticated reindeer and musk oxen. He set about
trying to induce the Federal Government to go in for reindeer breeding as a
public enterprise. The Right Honorable Arthur Meighen, who was then Minister
of the Interior, soon became sufficiently interested to arrange the appoint–
ment, in May 1919, of a Royal Commission to investigate the possibilities
as outlined by Stefansson in an address before both Houses of Parliament.
The commission consisted of J. G. Rutherford, Railway Commissioner (chairman);
James S. McLean, manager of the Harris Abattoir Co., Toronto; James B. Harkin,
Commissioner of Dominion Parks; and Dr. Stefansson. During the next year the
commission questioned 35 expert witnesses and finally brought in a favorable
report. In March 1920, Stefansson withdrew from the commission, partly
because he felt that he was prejudiced and partly because of a new idea he
had: that a reindeer industry might be expedited with private backing.
In October 1919, Stefansson opened negotiations with the Hudson’s Bay
Company. He next made formal application to the Department of the Interior
to lease grazing rights over a large area of southern Baffin Island for a
fifty-year period, with the privilege of transferring it if granted. Meanwhile
the Hudson’s Bay Company agreed to support his reindeer venture, and later

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

a musk ox venture, too, should he be granted his lease.
The lease was formally signed on June 11, 1920, giving Stefansson
exclusive rights for reindeer grazing over 113,900 square miles of southern
Baffin Island for 30 years. The Hudson’s Bay Reindeer Company was incorporated
and to it Stefansson transferred his lease, in consideration for which he
was retained solely in an advisory capacity.
Stefansson’s plan was to buy a selected herd of a thousand reindeer
in northern Norway and ship them to Baffin Island, and he recommended Storker
T. Storkerson, a member of his Canadian Arctic Expedition, as permanent
manager. Storkerson, a Norwegian, visited the prospective grazing grounds
during the summer of 1920, was well pleased, and the following winter
journeyed to London to report to the head of the Hudson’s Bay Company with
the expectation that he would now have the responsibility of selecting and
buying the breeding stock in Norway. This was denied him, however, and he
at once resigned in protest.
This was the beginning of a chain of misfortune s that led to disaster.
The Hudson’s Bay Company’s supply vessel ( Nascopie , which was sent to Norway
to fetch the reindeer, had space for only 687 animals, 60 of which died or
were lost before the herd was loaded. Rough weather en route took another
77, so that only 550 remained to be put ashore at Amadjuak Bay, Baffin Island.
No accommodation for the Lapp herders who were employed had be d e n provided,
nor had provision been made to receive the deer; so while the herders were
trying to erect dwellings, the herd dispersed. A year later, in June 1922,
there were 210 reindeer left, including new calves. The Lapps departed for
home and were replaced by local Eskimos who had not yet acquired enough
experience as herders. By 1925, the entire herd had vanished.

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

However, the sanguine report of the Royal Commission upon the possibilities
of the reindeer industry in the arctic and subarctic regions, published in
1922, was not forgotten.
The report recommended that a number of experimental herds be estab–
lished in the most suitable locations. It was believed that the development
of such herds would provide reliable and economical food and clothing supplies
for the natives, both Indians and Eskimos, and guard against actual starvation
due to failure to find wild game. The commissioners added that the herds
might become a food source also for white men engaged in developing the
natural resources of the country, and lay the foundation for a future commer–
cial meat industry.
The Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch, Department of the Interior,
which had been created in 1921, made further inquiries about reindeer
herding, especially in Alaska. This was intensified by the rapidly changing
economy of Canadian Eskimos. Nearly all had acquired rifles with which they
were decimating the d c aribou and altering their migration routes; and al were
turning more and more to the trapping of white foxes. It was feared that
fluctuations in the numbers of fur bearers and the uncertainties of the fur
market might seriously affect the natives.
The Government observed that similar conditions had prevailed in Alaska
forty years earlier, and that the natives’ lot had been improved by the
introduction of domestic reindeer from Siberia. The original herd of 1,280
animals introduced between 1891 and 1902 had increased to more than 750,000.
In addition more than 200,000 had been slaughtered to supply meat and
clothing. Two-thirds of the Alaskan reindeer were nor owned by natives.
It was the desire of the Canadian Government to promote the introduction

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

of an industry which the natives could develop rather than to establish
a government industry, and it was decided, before incurring the expenses
involved in introducing reindeer, to have a thorough investigation made.
This was to cover the country between the Alaska-Yukon boundary on the west,
the Coppermine River on the east, Great Bear Lake on the south, and the
Arctic Sea on the north.
It was to be a general botanical reconnaissance with special reference
to reindeer pasture, carrying capacity, and other general conditions of
importance to a future reindeer industry. Since in Alaska the reindeer
industry had become such a success, it was considered that previous to the
field work in Canada the investigators should, with the permission of the
United States Government, spend a season in Alaska to make an exhaustive
study of the reindeer industry and its effect on the country and people.
Chosen for this assignment were two brothers, A. Erling P orsild, a
trained botanist, and R. T. Porsild, a zoologist, both of whom had spent
many years in North Greenland, were experienced arctic travelers, and could
speak the Eskimo language. The investigation lasted from May 1926 to
November 1928, during which the Porsilds traveled 15,000 miles by dog team,
canoe, motorboat, and on foot. They returned with 15,000 herbarium
specimens of vascular plants and nearly 5,000 specimens of cryptogams, plus
some zoological specimens and many photographs.
In his report, Erling Porsild indicated a half-dozen sections he
considered suitable for reindeer pasture: ( 1 ) the arctic coast from the
Alaska-Yukon boundary eastward, including Herschel Island, to the Mackenzie
Delta; ( 2 ) the Mackenzie Delta and its islands; ( 3 ) the arctic coast and
hinterland from the Mackenzie River to Cape Bathurst; ( 4 ) the plains north

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

of Great Bear Lake; ( 5 ) the Dease Valley; and ( 6 ) the Dismal Lakes and
Kendall River valleys.
In summing up, Porsild estimated that there was a total of 15,000
square miles of grazing land in the coastal area from the Alaska-Yukon
boundary to Cape Bathurst and from the mouth of the Anderson River to
Point Separation at the south end of the Mackenzie Delta. Allowing 40
acres per head for this type of country, he considered that it would have
a year-round carrying capacity of 250,000 reindeer. The pasturable country
north and east of Great Bear Lake comprised 38,000 square miles which he
believed would support 300,000 reindeer, giving each one 60 acres. (In 1930,
he made a grazing survey of the central Keewatin District, west of Hudson
Bay between Churchill and Chesterfield Inlet, ascertaining that, while the
greater part must be classified as summer pasture only, it still contained
suitable reindeer ranching areas exceeding those of the Mackenzie District,
along the coast from Nelson River north to Dawson Inlet.)
On the basis of the Porsild report, the Canadian Government proceeded
to acquire the breeding stock for establishment in the Mackenzie Delta. By
an Order in Council of May 1, 1929, the Minister of the Interior was authorized
to purchase from Lomen Brothers, Nome, Alaska, 3,000 head of adult reindeer.
Under the terms of a contract subsequently made, Lomen Brothers agreed to
furnish this number of the largest and sturdiest animals in their possession,
with a proper proportion of bucks and does, and to deliver them at the
Mackenzie Delta in the spring of 1931.
In the fall of 1929, Erling Porsild went to Nome to represent the
Government in the selection of the herd and the beginning of the drive,
while his brother was given charge of arrangements for the reception of the

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

of the reindeer in the Mackenzie Delta. In December, 2,890 does and 307
bucks were selected in the Buckland Valley, and to these were added about
250 steers for food and draft purposes. Lomen Brothers placed Andrew Bahr,
a veteran Lapp herder, in charge of the drive, assisted by other Lapps and
several Eskimos.
The drive got under way in December 1929. After the initial effort
of detaching the selected animals from the main herd, many unforeseen
difficulties were encountered. At first many of the deer broke away and
were not recovered. Blizzards, intense cold, and depredations of wolves,
the distraction of wild caribou, and the stampeding of the reindeer, all
impeded progress along the 1,500-mile route. The trek continued, however,
with losses being recouped in some measure each fawning season. The deer
reached Canadian territory in 193 8 38 , but an unsuccessful attempt to get them
across the Mackenzie Delta in the winter of 1933-34 delayed delivery until
March 1935.
The number of deer delivered was 2,370, consisting of 1,498 does of
all ages, 3 2 89 bulls, 322 male fawns, and 261 steers. Only a fifth of these
were original stock from the Buckland Valley herd in Alaska.
Long before the trek ended, a corral had been constructed at Kittigazuit
on the mainland just east of the Mackenzie Delta, while headquarters for the
reindeer staff was established, with dwellings and warehouse, about 40 miles
inland at the foot of the Caribou Hills along the East Channel of the delta,
70 miles by water from Aklavik.
In 1931, three Lapp herders and their families were brought from Norway
to assist in controlling the herd upon its arrival and in training the local
Eskimos. These men joined the herd during the winter of 1932-33, for the
last stage of the drive.

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

In December 1933, the Government officially created a reindeer reserve
comprising about 6,600 square miles, including both summer and winter ranges,
immediately east of the Mackenzie Delta. Two years later this area was
photographed from the air, and the resulting maps proved invaluable to the
herders in their travels and in the selection of fresh grazing grounds.
During the first summer on the reserve, the herd grazed in the coastal
area in the vicinity of the corral at Kittigazuit, where a roundup was held
in midsummer. A count then made showed that there was an increase of 800
healthy fawns. In early winter the herd was moved inlan t d to the environs of
the main station, where the plateau extending back from the river carries a
good cover of reindeer moss for winter feeding. The following spring the
reindeer were taken to Richards Island, adjoining the Kittigazuit range.
The island proved wholly satisfactory for summer grazing and has been used thus
ever since. Here a corral with holding pens and a lead fence was constructed
for the annual roundup.
When alarmed, the reindeer from into a compact body and begin to circle.
Herds consistently move clockwise or counterclockwise, according to the
tendency of the parent herds. The Canadian deer mill counterclockwise, as
do their Alaskan forebears, and this peculiarity has to be taken into considera–
tion in the construction of corrals and holding pens.
The roundup procedure is to count all the deer, mark all that have not
previously been marked (with a V-shaped notch cut in the right ear), and check
the sexes, enumerating does, fawns, and yearlings. Bulls over four years old
are castrated. All diseased or maimed animals are killed at once, while old
does and surplus bucks (a proportion of 10% of the latter is maintained)
are selected for slaughter later in the year.

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

The handling of the reindeer at roundup time and on other occasions
tends to prevent them from becoming wild and intractable. Some of the
mature steers in the herd are broken to harness for transporting supplies
and firewood, moving camp, and the like.
Of fine grain and classed between beef and mutton, reindeer meat is
palatable, nourishing, easily digested, and free from gamy flavor. The
skin, with hair intact, is unsurpassed for cold-weather bedding and clothing.
Contrary to the practice in Norway, the milking of Canadian reindeer has
not yet been attempted to any extent, although the milk is among the richest
kinds known, with a butterfat content of 2 3 2 %.
In the summer of 1939, an inspection of the Canadian reindeer was made
by Dr. Seymour Hadwen, Director of Pathology and Bacteriology, Ontario
Research Foundation, Toronto, and formerly Chief Veterinarian and Parasi–
tologist of the United States Bureau of Biological Survey. He reported the
herd to be in excellent condition and practically free from disease and
parasitism, and was struck by the fertility of the deer as shown by the
bearing of fawns by some of the does only one year old. He noted that there
had been a gradual increase in the dressed weight of slaughtered steers.
Some carcasses now weighed as much as 200 pounds, and the average was 167
as against 150 in 1935. The dressed weight of the aged does was about 135
pounds. He concluded that the excellent range and favorable climate, as well
as good management, were responsible for the development of large and
vigorous stock.
The Canadian deer are allowed to graze freely over an area of several
square miles, the herders watching for straying individuals — which, after
a winter storm, sometimes have to be tracked some distance and returned to

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

safety. On the semiannual drive between summer and winter grazing grounds,
the main herd covers about 75 miles in easy stages. Reindeer moss ( Cladonia
rangiferina ) is the principal food in winter, and although it is eaten to
some extent in summer too, it is not nearly so nourishing as the grasses,
willows, and other shrubs that are then available. If overgrazed, the moss
may take many years to recover, but the other food renews itself annually.
A system of rotating the winter grazing areas guards against moss depletion.
Like all other northern land mammals the reindeer are harassed by flies
in summer, but by moving them 15 to 20 miles away from an area at the time
warble-fly grubs emerge from the hides and drop on the the ground, the herders
are able to minimize reinfestation.
There was steady though unspectacular growth in the size of the herd,
the official totals at roundup time being 2,980, including 815 fawns, in 1935;
3,750, including 936 fawns, in 1936; 4,092, including 1,181 fawns, in 1937;
4,631, including 1,281 fawns, in 1938.
In December 1938, about 950 deer were separated from the main herd and
transferred to a location in the vicinity of the Anderson River. This became
the nucleus of a new herd under the management of Eskimos under government
supervision, and the following yea d r it had increased to 1,196. A roundup,
in August 1940, showed that the new herd numbered 1,559 animals, including
448 fawns. Meanwhile, the main herd on Richards Island and grown by 1940
to 5,076, including 1,486 fawns, despite the reduction in 1938.
The training of young natives as herders proceeded, and a second
subsidiary herd was started in 1940. To qualify as independent herders the
Eskimos had to serve as apprentices for three years, then they received the
deer under a lending arrangement subject to the return of a similar number

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

of animals as the herds increased.
Both the training program and the industry itself suffered a serious
setback in 1944, when the custodians of the native herds, together with
their families and a white supervisor, lost their lives in the wreck of
a schooner in a storm off the arctic coast. The native herds became
scattered, and all the animals that could be recovered were maintained as a
government unit in the Anderson River area.
The reindeer industry in northwestern Canada is still in its infancy,
and the main concern is to train young natives as herders and at the same
time build up new breeding stock. Still, there has been available for dis–
posal each year a number of surplus animals, chiefly steers and old does.
About 300 deer in the main herd have been slaughtered annually for food and
clothing. The slaughtering operations have been conducted for the most part
in the late autumn and early winter, the meat being distributed mainly to the
mission hospitals and residential schools in the Mackenzie Delta. The remainder of the meat goes far relief and camp purposes, with a limited quality for local sale.
Fawn skins which become available at the annual roundup, usually from
injured or defective animals, are turned into parkas and other clothing for
the herders. Experiments in tanning have been carried on with hides from
mature animals. Some of the skins of adult reindeer killed for food have
been shipped as far as the Canadian Eastern Arctic, when caribou were scarce,
to be used for bedding and the making of winter clothing.
In the spring the main herd is moved from the winter range to the
coastal area, where fawning occurs between the first of April and early
June. This interlude is followed by the driving of the deer over the ice
to the northern part of Richards Island, where the winds help to lessen the
scourge of flies. Later the deer are shifted gradually toward the corralling

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

grounds. The roundup is usually held during the last week of July, and,
if the winter is favorable, finishes within four or five days. Afterward
the herd grazes over the summer range until it is once more assembled for
the annual slaughter of surplus stock.
All herders share in an annual bonus of fifty cents per head. Two men
are usually on duty concurrently, each having a dog to help him, for a
period of 24 hours, at the end of which time they are relieved. Under
ordinary conditions the herder’s life is fairly placid, but it [: ] becomes
strenuous during emergencies such as storms, or the threat of wolves; and
when the herd must be transferred from one range to another, or rounded up.
Two of the Lapp herders returned to Norway in 1936 and 1938, but the
third has remained. In the first years of the building up of the herd all
of the Eskimos employed or apprenticed belonged to the Mackenzie Delta, but,
with the placing of native herds farther east, young Coronation Gulf Eskimos
were encouraged to take training.
The Canadian reindeer industry was beset with problems from the first,
of which the most formidable were not with the deer themselves but rather
with people. While capable white men can be found to act as supervisors,
it is always hard to maintain a full complement of native herders and
apprentices.
This difficulty was anticipated as long ago as 1920 by Dr. Diamond
Jenness, Chief of the Division of Anthropology, National Museum of Canada,
when he appeared before the Royal Commission and stated that he was not
sure that it would be an easy task to convert the Eskimos into efficient
herders. He pointed out that while they were intelligent and trustworthy,
they had always been hunters and fishermen, and as long as caribou and fish

EA-Zoo. Finnie: Reindeer Herding

and seal were plentiful they might not readily turn to herding. If game
became scarce, however, he thought that they would develop into herders as
Eskimos had done in Alaska.
He did not mention the further complication of fur trapping which in
those days was still a minor occupation of the Eskimos. In succeeding
years the Mackenzie Delta Eskimos, particularly, trapped white foxes almost
to the exclusion of hunting, and a number of them became comparatively
wealthy. Such people have been reluctant to forego opportunities to make
quick profits with foxes in favor of long-term investment in reindeer herds.
Familiar complaints of native herds are that they are onerously tied
down to their deer, with no time for trapping or even putting up enough
dog feed, and that they are obliged to hire other Eskimos to help them but
lack the means to pay them. To cap the climax, from their point of view,
the number of deer they may slaughter is rigidly restricted. The principles
of conservation are hard for them to grasp.
{ The successful continuation and expansion of the reindeer industry will
therefore depend on the employment of an ample number of keen and competent
white supervisors, careful over-all management, and a suitable program of
education for the natives, plus a profitable market for meat and hides to
keep pace with the expanding herds. }
Richard Finnie
Reindeer Breeding in U.S.S.R.

EA-Zoology
(V. J. Tereshtenko)

REINDEER BREEDING IN THE U.S.S.R.
CONTENTS
Page
Definition and Classification 1
Historical Background 5
Reindeer Breeding Before the 1917 Revolution 14
Reindeer Breeding After the Revolution 17
Reindeer Herding 24
Utilization of the Reindeer 28
Draft Animals 30
Meat 37
By-Products 40
Bibliography 44

EA-Zoology
(V. J. Tereshtenko)

REINDEER BREEDING IN THE U.S.S.R.
Definition and Classification
The English term “reindeer breeding” is liable to misinterpretation
when applied to conditions in the Soviet Union, and may easily cause con–
fusion among foreign students who do not have sufficient mastery of the
Russian language or do not inform themselves as to views on the zoological
classification of reindeer.
There are two sources of possible confusion, the first of which comes
from Russian terminology and nomenclature applied to reindeer breeding.
Berthold Laufer, in The Reindeer and Its Domestication (27), falls victim
to this difficulty, for he complains that the Russians do not discriminate
between stag and reindeer, calling both indifferently olen . But any
Russian-English dictionary indicates that olen means “deer” in English.
The English word “reindeer” and its equivalents in other languages are
translated into Russian by adding a qualifying word to olen . Thus “reindeer”
in Russian is severnyiolen , which literally means “northern deer.” The only
Russian equivalent of the term “reindeer breeding” is olenevodstvo , the
ending vodstvo implying the breeding or cultivation of something, thus
the word may signify the breeding of any deer. As a matter of fact, in

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

the territory of the U.S.S.R. the breeding of other species of deer as well
as reindeer has been developed. Accordingly, although the word olenevodstvo
often conveys the meaning of “reindeer breeding,” this is not always the case,
and therefore if taken out of context the word may lead to misunderstanding.
A second source of possible confusion to the foreign student of Soviet
reindeer breeding is the lack of precision in the existing classification of
reindeer in Russian literature and even more so in the works about reindeer
written outside of Russia.
For instance, the first 16 reindeer purchased in 1891 for the introduction
of reindeer breeding in Alaska, and the second group of 171 purchased in 1892.
were obtained from Cape Sertse Kamen and South Head, Siberia. The initiator
of the plan was Dr. Sheldon Jackson, United States General Agent of Education
in Alaska. Lieutenant B. P. Bertholf was later sent by Jackson to purchase
reindeer, with instructions to get a better breed than those “usually met with
on the northeast coast of Siberia.” In the report on his mission, Bertholf
stated that the Tungus deer “are much larger and sturdier and have longer legs
than the deer of the northeast coast of Siberia”, that “the interior Chukchi
and those some distance to the west of the east cape have deer which are
larger than those on the coast”; and that Koriak deer are smaller. In the
light of the modern zoological classification, Bertholf’s mention of the
“Tungus deer” may perhaps be interpreted as a reference to reindeer which
are described by Soviet zoologists as a subspecies rather than a “better breed”.
Rangifer , the genus which in English commonly includes all species of
of domestic and wild reindeer and caribou, but which is treated by some Soviet
writers as a species, is represented in the Soviet Far North by Rangifer
tarandus
, the Russian severnyi olen . Within this group the following subgroups

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

are distinguished, the Russian equivalents of the Latin names being formed
by adding one or two qualifying adjectives to severnyi olen: ( 1 ) Rangifer
tarandus tarandus , an inhabitant of Lapland and eastern European taiga ; ,
Laplandskii severn y i olen in Russian; ( 2 ) Rangifer tarandus pearsoni ,
which is found on Novaya Zemlya and called Novozemelskii severnyi olen
in Russian; ( 3 ) Rangifer tarandus sibiricus , or Sibirskii tundrovyi severnyi
olen , in Russian (Siberian tundra reindeer); it lives in the eastern European
and Siberian tundra, on the Novosibirskie Islands, and sometimes is found
also in the nor h thern taiga; ( 4 ) Rangifer tarandus valentinae , an inhabitant
of the woodland area of Siberia and Ural up to Tataria in the west, northern
Mongolia in the south, and the Stanovoi Range in the east; it is called
Sibirskii lesnoy severnyi olen (Siberian woodland reindeer) in Russian;
( 5 ) Rangifer tarandus phylarehus , found on the Kamchatka Peninsula, on the
coast of Okhotsk Sea, in the Amur region, and called Okhotskii severnyi olen
in Russian; ( 6 ) Rangifer tarandus setoni , Sakhalinskii olen in Russian; it
is met on the island of Sakhalin; ( 7 ) Rangifer tarandus angustrirostris ,
found in the mountains of the Transbaikal region, and in the Barguzin Range
in particular, its Russian name is Barguzinskii severnyi olen .
The wild reindeer does not occur between the middle course of the
Yenisei and that of the Ob. It is found on Sakhalin, but not in the center
of Yakutia. It is found also on Novaya Zemlya, Vaigach, and the islands of
Novosibirskie, Belyi, and Medvezhii. In the past, the bor d er line went
farther south than that of the present time and reached such cities in
C E uropean Russia as Novgorod and Kazan, and the middle course of the Kama.
As in the whole deer family, reindeer horns differ from those of other

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

ruminants in being solid, generally branched, shed, and renewed annually.
In contrast to other deer, the reindeer has antlers in both sexes, those of
the males larger and more branched. In the early stages of growth they are
soft and covered with a downy, vascular covering — the “velvet” — which
later is shed, or rubbed off. The antlers are cast every year; the males
usually cast them between November and December, the gelded reindeer and
the yearlings from March to May, and the females in May and June. At first
the growth of antlers proceeds slowly; toward the end of May, and especially
in June, the antlers of the mature stags grow rapidly. It is said that in
the whole kingdom of vertebrates there is no other tissue known which grows
as rapidly as reindeer antlers (4). According to some observations made in
the Pechora region, antlers grow at a rate of 0.39 inch and even as much as
0.79 inch a day at the beginning of June. Speaking of the antlers of Cervus
elaphus , another species of the deer family, Maiseven (4), asserts that
“their growth cannot be compared even with the growth of malignant tumors.
It far exceeds the latter.”
Depending upon climatic conditions and food supply, reindeer differ
considerably in weight and size. North of the tree line the reindeer is dark
brown in color, short and stocky (the height being about 39 to 43 inches),
but lighter in weight than the woodland reindeer which is long, big-framed,
with long legs and narrow chest (height about 43 to 46 inches) and of
steel-gray color. As a rule reindeer increase in weight from northwest to
southeast. The Nentsi reindeer are smaller than those met in the Norilsk
district, while the reindeer of the Tungus are much [: ] larger, weighing
up to 330 pounds. On the northern slopes of the Saian Mountains ( Karagasskii olen )
[: ] it reaches a height of 55 inches. It is very strong, capable of carrying

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

more than 200 pounds on its back over the most difficult roads. (According
to data of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the average reindeer in Alaska
stands 42 to 44 inches high, measures 5 1/2 to 6 feet from nose to tip of
tail, and has an average dressed weight around 150 pounds.) The reindeer
of the Tafalarsk district (Irkutsk region) is considered one of the
strongest and largest. The weight of the male reaches 440 to 507 pounds,
and it can easily carry a load of 175 to 220 pounds on its back. At the
All-Union Exhibition in 1939-40, some 4-month fawns from the Tafalarsk
district were shown weighing 185 pounds. The reindeer in Buriat-Mongolia,
in the Amur region, and on the island of Sakhalin are also strong and larger
than those of Yakutia. In the Chukhotsk district they are rather small, the
carcass weighing 130 to 150 pounds. The reindeer of European Russian (such
as those found in Malozemelskai Tundra, Bolshezemelskaia Tundra, and the
Iamal s — Iamal reindeer) are a little larger than those of the Chukhotsk
district but smaller than the Tafalarsk, Amur or Yakut reindeer. The average
weight of the Kolguev reindeer is about 300 pounds for the buck and 250
pounds for the doe.
According to the views of some, the domestic reindeer of a given region
are in size and other characteristics similar to the wild caribou (wild reindeer)
of the same or neighboring districts.
Historical Background
The origin of reindeer breeding is still doubtful. According to some
writers, it falls within historic times; by other investigators, domestication
is believed to date from prehistoric time. D. M. Wilcken in his work on the
history of domestic animals Grundzüge der Naturgeschichte der Haustiere

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

(Leipzig, 1905), asserts that the domestication of reindeer occurred in
prehistoric times. Recent Soviet investigators accept this, as in the
article on reindeer breeding in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
There are many authors, however, who do not share the prehistoric theory.
For instance, L. Reinhardt in his Kulturgeschichte der Nutztiere (Munich, 1912)
maintained that the domestication of reindeer “could not have taken place
much earlier than 500 years ago.” Berthold Laufer for (27) suggests that Reinhardt’s figure should be multiplied
“at least by three.” Laufer concedes that the wild reindeer (caribou) was
among the game hunted by Paleolithic man, but does not see any evidence that
man of that age attempted to domesticate the animal. Laufer suggests that
since the domesticated reindeer is lacking in aboriginal America, its domes–
tication cannot be of very ancient date. Further proof of this, according
to Laufer, is the fact that the classical authors, at least in western
Europe, have left us no account whatever of the domesticated reindeer. The
first good description of wild reindeer ( bos cervi figura ) under the name of
tarandus , was by Julius Caesar. King Alfred of England (849-899) knew that
in his time the Norwegians had domestic reindeer in the north of their country (26A).
Archaeological evidence does not shed much light on the question. In
Scythian and Siberian antiquities of the Bronze Age, as well as on burial
stones in Mongolia, figures of elk have been found, but they are shown as
wild animals, and no representation of domestic reindeer accompanied by men
has yet been discovered.
The question of where the first domestication began leaves less room for
speculation than the question of time. It is true that the wild reindeer or
caribou had formerly a much wider geographical range than at present. Its
remains are found associated with hippopotami in Pleistocene formations much

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

farther south in Europe than the location of the Hercynian forests, where they
we e r e found by Caesar. All investigators agree that the domesticated reind d e er
was the cultural property of the Old World and the domestication of the animal
occurred somewhere in the territory which may be described at present as the
Soviet North, together with the adjoining region of Lake Baikal. A former
popular notion that the animals were tamed at first only by the inhabitants
of the northern plains was banished long ago. Laufer (27) considered that
“the records referring to the woodland reindeer are much older than those
pertaining to the tundra reindeer of the maritime coasts,” and that “the
woodland reindeer is the first in point of time to be domesticated and spread
from the south into other regions, gradually developing into the tundra reindeer
through infusion with the blood of wild forms of the tundra.” There is no
historic evidence that reindeer breeding was restricted to a certain ethnic
group. Apparently it was bound originally to certain localities with a
suitable floristic environment.
The earliest records in existence containing references to the domestic–
cated reindeer are Chinese. The Chinese were well acquainted with tribes in
the north and northwest of their country, and although no Chinese author
of the pre-Christian era made any allusions to reindeer, a story dating back
to 499 A.D. contains such a reference. It was found in the Annals of the
Liang dynasty ( Liang shu , ch. 54, p. 12) in a story told by the Buddhist
monk, Huei Shen. In 499 A.D., J H uei Shen returned after a long journey
to the Liang and gave a fabulous account of the land of “Fu-sang,” allegedly
located far from the “northeastern ocean.” He reported that in Fu-sang
people had vehicles drawn by horses, oxen, and stags, that they raised deer
as oxen were reared in China, and that cream was made from deer milk. The

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

whole description of the land of Fu-sang is considered a concoction placed
together from heterogenous elements without any coherent geographical value,
nevertheless, the allusion to reindeer is accepted as authentic. Since the
breeding of horses, cattle, and reindeer is found concurrently only in the
Baik e a l region, there is every reason to identify the oldest Chinese account
of the tame reindeer with the culture of that region.
The Annals of the T’ang dynasty (618-906) contain another reference to
reindeer breeding. Speaking of the tribe Wu-huan, which lived either east
or southeast of Lake Baikal, the Annals state that those people “have neither
sheep nor horses, but keep reindeer [stags] in the manner of cattle or
horses. These animals subsist only on moss. They are trained to draw
sledges [carts]. Moreover, reindeer skins are utilized as material for
clothing.” ( T’and shu , ch. 217 B, pp. 7a-b).
Marco Polo’s travels also contain s a reference to reindeer. Speaking
about a tribe called Mescript, he states: “They are a very wild race and
live by their cattle, the most of which are stags and these stags, I assure
you, are used to ride upon.” (Yule and Cardier. The Book of S e i r Marco Polo ,
Vol. I., p. 269). Marco Polo’s “Mescript” is identified with the Merkit in
the country of Barga, near Lake Baikal.
In the history of the Mongols, written by the Persian historian Rash i ī d
al-D i ī n in 1302, an allusion to reindeer breeding is understood by some
specialists in the text where the author speaks of a tribe, “Woodland
Uryangkit,” living in the o forests northeast of Lake Baikal. While the
oldest Chinese records refer to reindeer breeding in the Baikal region, the
Annals of the Mongol dynasty of the thirteenth century mention the existence
of the domesticated reindeer at the source of the Yenisei and east of the

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

river “Wu-se” (Is), an affluent of the Yenisei. ( Yuan shi , ch. 42, 63,
p. 32 B; K’ien-lung ed.). These Annals speak of the Kirgiz living on the
upper Yenisei, and mention a small territory “Han-ho-ha,” apparently
inhabited likewise by the Kirgiz: “This region is accessible only over
two mountain passes and abounds in wild game, while domestic animals are
scarce….They transport their chattels on white deer and consume the milk
of this deer.”
The Chinese noticed that reindeer were used also by the Tungusian tribe
Oroci. The memoirs of the Manchu Tulishen’s embassy to the Kalmyk (1712-1715)
describe briefly the reindeer among the Tungus living in the region of
Irkutsk (G.T. Staunton, Narrative of the Chinese Embassy to the Khan of the
Tourgouth Tartars ) . For the Yakuts the reindeer was a secondary acquisition.
According to some historical records, the Yakuts were driven from the grass–
lands near the Caspian and Aral seas by the Mongols of Genghis Khan and
brought to the land of present Soviet Yakutia the steppe dwellers’ made of
life. Their domestic animals were the horse and cow, while reindeer breeding
was adopted by them from the Tungus. The Yakuts used to call e reindeer
“Tungusian foreign cattle” and asserted that the Tungus were acquainted
with no other domestic animals. (V. L. Seroshevski, Yakuty , vol. 1, pp. 146,307.)
Historically, reindeer breeding has never occupied an important place in
the culture of the Tungus and has spread mainly in the northern districts of
Yakutia. The Yakuts did not adopt milking the reindeer and killed the
animals for meat only on rare occasions.
Regarding the western centers of reindeer breeding in the Soviet North,
the earliest reference is contained in the narrative of the Norseman Otter
(Ohthere), who “said to his lord, King Alfred, that he dwelt farthes e t north

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

of all Norsemen.” Around 870 A.D. , Ottar (26A) undertook several voyages
in the course of which he navigated the White Sea, reached the south coast
of the Kola Peninsula and became acquainted with the old Permians of the
present northeast of European Russia. The account of Ottar’s travels is
included in an Anglo-Saxon translation of the Hormista of Paulus Orosius
and contains the following statement: “He [Ottar] was a very rich man in
those possessions in which their wealth consists, that is, in wild animals.
He still had when he came to the king, 600 tame deer, unsold. These deer
they call ‘reindeer’; six of them were decoy-dear; these are much prized
among the Finns [Lapps] because they capture wild deer with them.” (Alfred
the Great. The Anglo-Saxon Version from the Historian Orosius. London, 1773).
No references to domesticated reindeer are found in the Finnish national
epic poem, Kale y v ala , although the elk and caribou are mentioned in songs
dating from a time prior to the Finns’ Christianization in 1151 A.D. Among
the Russian sources, probably the earliest reference to reindeer is made in
a document relating to 1499 (I.V. Shcheglov. Chronologicheskii perechen
vazhneishikh dannykh iz istorii Sibiri 1032-1882 ; Published by the East
Siberian Section of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, Irkutsk, 1883,
p. 12). In that year, Ivan the Great decided to complete the subjugation
of “Yugra” - the territory of the Ural Mountains, inhabited by Vogul and
other Ugrian tribes - and sent a military expedition there. In the description
of this expedition, the following statements are found [translation]:
“The military chiefs [voivody] slew 50 men of the Samoyed [Nentsi] on the
Rock and captured 200 reindeer. …Proceeding from Lyapino they met the Yugor
princes who came on reindeer from Obdor; from Lyapino the military chiefs
traveled on reindeer; the army, however, on dogs.” (Lyapino, later called)

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Vorulsk, was a small town on the banks of the Sygma; Obdor was a settlement
not far from the mouth of the Ob; “Rock” was a designation of the Ural; the
distance covered from the Rock to Lyapino was about 290 miles.) This
document makes it clear that the Uralic Ugrians wee acquainted with the
domesticated reindeer at the end of the fifteenth century. Mention of
domesticated reindeer is made in the epic traditions of Irtysh-Ostiak,
traced to a period from the fourteenth to the fifteenth centuries (S. Patkov.
Die Irtysch-Ostjaken ).
The credit for bringing the reindeer from Asia to C E urope is usually
attributed to the Nentsi [Samoyeds] whom Laufer calls “the most skillful
and successful reindeer breeders.” Their language has a very specialized
nomenclature of reindeer and the equipment pertaining to reindeer breeding,
and has special terms denoting the gelded and ungelded male, wild, domesticated,
and hornless animals, calves (fawns) in various stages of growth, etc. Among
the Nentsi, as among the Ostiaks, on sacrificial holidays the reindeer was
slaughtered in honor of the gods. They also adopted, like all other reindeer-
breeding tribes, the use of property marks for the purpose of recognizing
their animals. While Chukchi used to bite a piece out of the fawns’ ears
for this purpose, the Nentsi, Tungus and others cut marks on the ears of
their reindeer. These tribes display [: ] great skill in lassoing the reindeer.
As to reindeer driving, it apparently developed as an imitation of driving
dog sledges, which for centuries had been a distinctive method of transport–
tation among such tribes of Eastern Siberia as the Koriaks, Kamchadals,
Giliaks, and Yenisei-Ostiaks. An old statement regarding the use of
reindeer with sledges is found in the information on Siberia gathered from
oral accounts by the Jesuit Philippe Avril who visited Moscow in 1664, having

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

been commissioned by the King of France to discover a new land route into
China: “To make the reine-deer go more swiftly they tie a great dog behind,
that scaring the poor beast with his barking, sets her a running d with his
barking, sets her a running with that speed, as to draw her burthen no less
than forty leagues a day. …But that which is more wonderful as to these
sort of sledges, they are driven along by the wind sometimes over the land
cover’d with snow, sometimes over the ice of frozen rivers, as our vessels
that sail upon the sea. For in regard the country beyond Siberia is open
and extremely level as far as Mount Caucassus, the people who inhabit it
making use of this advantage to spare their beasts, have so order’d their
sleds, as either to b y e drawn along by the reine-deer, or else to carry sails,
when the wind favours ‘em.” (Jesuit Philippe Avril. Voyage en divers etats
d’Europe et d’Asie . Utrecht, 1673, Paris, 1692. Also published in English
under the title “ Travels into Divers Parts of Europe and Asia ”, London, 1693.)
The custom of decorating riding deer with ribbons to which glass beads
or buttons are sewn has been widespread among the natives of Siberia, par–
ticularly the Tungus. It has continued until modern times and as recently
as September 1950, the Soviet Weekly reported on the traditional “Reindeer Day”
festival held in the Nenets National Territory, at which the competition
for the best decorated animals and sledges was a part of the program.
According to Laufer, reindeer breeding spread westward from the Nentsi
to the Ugrian tribes of the Ural and the Lapps, and eastward to the Tungusians,
from the latter to the Yakut, Chukchi, and Koriak. When the Nentsi moved
northward beyond the forest, they took along their woodland reindeer. Their
old stocks were gradually replenished by capturing the northern caribou,
until a point was reached when the better bread predominated.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Soviet scientists, in their attempts to determine the original area
of the domestication of the reindeer, are less definite in their conclusions
than were some of their western colleagues, particularly [: ] Laufer.
For instance, volume 43 of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1939) states that
the question of indicating the exact region where the reindeer were
originally domesticated is highly controversial; the “two oldest centers of
reindeer breeding” established with certainty are the Nymylanskoe in
eastern Asia, and the Nenets in the west. The Soviet scientists
also consider it proved that the larger ethnic groups of the north adopted
reindeer breeding from the smaller tribes; the Yakuts took it from the Evenki,
the Komi from the Nenets, etc.
Perhaps one reason for the doubt displayed by Soviet explorers regard–
ing the origin of reindeer breeding is the confusion of names applied by historians
to various reindeer breeding tribes of the Far North. Early Russian traders
often gave these tribes names which were really terms of derision. Only
in recent years have the correct names been restored or established with
the help of modern ethnography and better knowledge of local languages and
dialects. For instance the word “Samoyeds,” mentioned as early as 1096
in the Old Russian chronicle of Nestor, actually means “people who devour
one another.” The tribe called Nentsi, living at present on the shores of
the Arctic Sea, from the Mezen River to the Taimyr, constitute apparently
the bulk of former “Semoyeds.” These Nentsi, however, should be distinguished
from Nentsi (Gods) living in the Far East. Possibly also some of the
Ostiaks should be included in the group of former “Samoyeds.” Some [: ]
of the supposed old tribal names proved to be simply the native words
designating “men” or “people.” Chukchi living in the Soviet Chukotsk-National

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

District were recently renamed the Luoravetlans, since, “Chukchi” simply
means “rich in reindeer.”
It has been said that reindeer are less dependent on man than other
domestic animals such as horses and cattle. This is largely a matter of
adaptation to environment. The reindeer respon d s to care and feeding as
other animals do, but it is at home in arctic and subarctic regions; it can
find its own food if necessary, and it requires no shelter from the cold,
while sheep and cattle imported from warmer climates require stabling and
other care. Large herds of cattle and sheep do live through severe winters
on the plains of the western United States without shelter, but every now
and then, in bad winters, the losses are severe.
Reindeer Breeding Before the 1917 Revolution
As an organized industry, reindeer breeding did not exist in Imperial
Russia before the Revolution. It was considered an occupation of the
primitive tribes who inhabited the Far North and the Russians did not display
active interest in its study or development. When Lieutenant Berthof visited
St. Petersburg on his assignment to purchase the reindeer for Alaska, he “was
astonished at the apparent lack of information at the government’s disposal
regarding reindeer matters in Siberia…. It was impossible to find out h
where the deer were or the number of deer, and I got the impression that
the officials didn’t much care.”
The Great Encyclopedia of F. A. Brockhaus and I. E. Efron, published
in St. Petersburg in 1897, indicates that in 1888-89 the reindeer herds in
Russia amounted to 533,000 head; of these 263,000 were in European Russia,
198,000 in Siberia, and 72,000 in the principality of Finland. In 1893, the

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

number of reindeer in the Archangel Region was 270,000 and it increased to
367,128 in 1895.
A 1914 publication of the Resettlement Administration of the Imperial
Government (22) stated that “There is no exact figure available as to how
many natives in Siberia are engaged in reindeer breeding and what number of
the reindeer they possess.” According to this source there were about
1,100,000 reindeer in Russian Asia in 1906; of these 515,000 were in two
districts of the Tobolsk region, 95,360 in the Yeniseisk region (mostly in
the Turukhansk district), 287,000 in four districts of the Yakutsk region,
176,000 in the Primorsk region (including Kamchatka), 2,000 in the Narymsk
district of the Tomsk region, 2,400 in the Irkutsk region, about 1,500 in
the Transbaikal region, and also a small number in the Amur region. “Neverthe–
less,” states the above source, “these figures are not reliable and actually
there should be many more reindeer, since the count was not made everywhere.”
The number of reindeer in Yakutia dropped to 120,900 by 1911, such
decreases having occurred often owing to a complete lack of zootechnical and
veterinary facilities, depletion of pastures, and frequent outbreaks of
various epizootics. The “Siberian plague” (anthrax) was a real scourge
to reindeer breeders, in the Bolshezemelskaia Tundra alone, 76,000 animals
died of disease in 1898, 200,000 in 1907, and 100,000 in 1911.
Some influential Russians were concerned for the welfare of the reindeer
industry. There were, for instance, the nineteenth-century projects of
Senator Unterberg and N. L. Gondatti (later Governor-General of the
Priamur region) aiming at the encouragement of reindeer breeding.
In the early 1900’s, the Russian government forbade the exportation of
reindeer to Alaska after the first few purchases (1,280 head) made by the

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

United States government. The reason for this unexpected veto has never
been explained; It may have reflected the apprehension of the Russian
government that further exports on an increasing scale could have depleted
the East Siberian herd with damaging effects on the natives’ economy, or it
may have been part of a general plan to discourage non-Russians from attempts
to build up a commerce with the natives of northeastern Siberia.
Shortly before the end of the Imperial regime, there occurred a dramatic
episode connected with the utilization of reindeer (25). In 1915 the Russian
government was hastily building the new port of Murmansk and the railroad
across the Kola Peninsula in order to arrange a channel of transportation
for munitions and supplies coming from the western Allies, of which Russia
was critically in need. As early as November 1915, a question was raised
in St. Petersburg as to how the cargoes from Murmansk could be delivered to
Rovaniemi, the nearest railway station in Finland, before the railroad con–
struction was finished. Rovaniemi was roughly 150 miles from Kandalaksha,
a Russian town approximately 135 miles south of Murmansk. About 12 miles
of the railway line was already built from Kandalaksha toward Murmansk by
January 1916. Under the auspices of the Department of the Navy, a meeting
was called in Archangel to discuss with local businessmen the possibility
of using reindeer. The consensus was that reindeer transportation would be
too expensive and impractical. A navy captain named Roshakovski did not
agree with the majority. With the help of a local man he made an investigation
and reported his conclusions to the Tsar. All precedents were broken and
he obtained official permission to use reindeer and an appropriation for
the project.
In the meantime a few British ships loaded with munitions anchored in

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Murmansk, being unable to proceed to Archangel. On January 1 6 5 , 1916,
Roshakovski was back in Murmansk and on the same day the loading of the
cargo on sledges began. About 15,000 reindeer with an adequate number of
drivers was drafted. Day and night the caravans of sledges were dispatched
from Murmansk under the supervision of noncommissioned officers, with one,
two, or four reindeer carrying each sledge loaded with boxes of munitions.
The reindeer were driven about 45 miles without rest and then released to
pasture, while fresh reindeer assembled at established points were harnessed.
At times 20 reindeer trains were in circulation. At a point reached by the
railway under construction, the cargo was loaded on cars, delivered to
Kandalaksha 12 miles away, again reloaded on sledges and carried to Rovaniemi.
Some cargo was shipped directly to Petrozavodsk, over 500 miles south of Murmansk,
but that distance proved to be too long. By the middle of April the thaw–
ing of the snow interrupted this unusual transportation. By that time,
however, the reindeer had delivered to the Russian army 250,000 rifles with
adequate quantities of cartridges and a great quantity of hand grenades.
It was revealed later that about 1,000 reindeer died as a result of exhaustion
in the course of the spectacular performance.
Reindeer Breeding after the Revolution
The first years after the Revolution of 1917 did not create conditions
especially favorable for the reindeer husbandry. Although there are con–
siderable discrepancies among the available statistics, the depletion of
stocks by 1933 is evident. Between 1926 and 1933, the reindeer of the U.S.S.R.
decreased from 2,193,000 to 1,931,000 (P. V. Orlovski, “Agriculture in the
Far North”, in Sovetski Sever , 1933, no.2, p.15). This reflects the
general decline of Soviet animal husbandry in 19 3 2 9-33 as a result of

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.%R.

collectivization and violent resentment to it on the side of the wealthier
groups of the rural population (kulaks). Also, continuous losses from
various diseases had their effect. For instance, in 1926-27 in the Kamchatsk
region and on the Okhotsk coast 5% and 4.6%, respectively, of the reindeer
were lost because of various diseases, while 1.8% and 3.0% disappeared from
“unknown reasons.”
After 1939 the Soviet government ceased the regular release of statistics
in absolute figures. The available statistics are usually given in percentages
showing changes in comparison with a certain year for which no absolute
figures are known. This makes it very difficult to estimate the present
reindeer population of the U.S.S.R. or to determine the number of animals
from year to year. Nevertheless, an attempt is made here to arrive at the
figures sought. Table I may give an approximate picture of the reindeer
stocks of the U.S.S.R. in 1933-36.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia states that in 1937 the U.S.S.R. possessed
about 70% of the world’s reindeer population which were bred on an area
of about 11,000,000 square kilometers; that year the share of Alaska was
16% and that of Scandinavia 14%. In 1948 the same Encyclopedia indicated
that the total number of reindeer in the U.S.S.R. at the beginning of 1940
equaled “approximately 2,000,000” (against 2,138,000 arrived at in Table I.)
The increase of reindeer after 1943 was interrupted by World War II. The
war increased the demand for reindeer meat and consequently caused greater
slaughter of the animals; also it led to the drafting of many experienced
herdsmen.

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Table I. Reindeer Stocks of the U.S.S.R. a
Year In % of
1933 herd
In
millions
1933 100.0 1,615
1934 104.2 1,683
1935 110.5 1,785
1936 117.0 1,890
1937 122.9 1,985
1938 128.1 2,069
1939 130.8 2,112
1940 132.4 2,138
1941 133.3 2,153
1942 123.3 1,991
1943 118.2 1,909
1944 118.8 1,919
1945 119.8 1,935
1946 129.8 2,096
1
Table II gives a picture of the prewar distribution of reindeer herds
in the Asiatic portion of the Far North:

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Table II. Reindeer in the Asiatic Far North (13).
Geographical
regions
1926 1933 1937 1938
(according to the plan)
Ob Sever: 438,000 303,800 418,300 454,700
Ostiako-Vogul district 128,000 92,000 74,200 80,700
Yamalo-Nenets district 310,000 211,000 344,100 374,000
Narym district 5,000 --- 3,000 3,300
Yenisei Sever: 179,000 124,800 152,800 169,000
Taimyr district 119,000 61,300 80,300 90,000
Evenk district 49,000 52,200 57,100 63,100
Igarka and
Turukhansk counties
11,000 11,300 12,700 ---
Yakutian A.S.S.R. 118,000 142,100 167,300 194,100
Khabarovsk Sever 857,900 578,000 610,900 669,000
Total 1,597,900 1,148,700 1,352,300 1,490,100
In 1940 the centers of reindeer breeding in the Asiatic Far North were
the northern districts of the Khabarovsk and Omsk regions. The industry was
less developed in Yeniseisk Sever and in Yakutia, where about 80% of the
reindeer were found in the 16 northern districts (about 16% of the Yakutian
reindeer are in the Aldan district). In the Narymsk district it was of no
economic importance. Of the 610,900 reindeer in the Khabarovsk Sever in
1937, 498,000 or 80.2% were in the Kamchatka region (not so much, however,
on the Kamchatka Peninsula itself) while only a little over 2% were on the
island of Sakhalin. In the Chukhotsk district reindeer numbered 537,000 in
1934, while by 1940 about 62% of all the reindeer of the Asiatic Far North
were concentrated here (13). No recent data are available on the value of
reindeer production in rubles. In 1926-27 the total gross value of the
products was given at 1,097,000 rubles.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

In the Murmansk district, within its post-1920 frontiers, there were
74,000 reindeer in 1914, the figure dropped to 28,300 in 1921 and then
increased to 54,000 in 1934. It was established that this stock would
reach 82,000 in 1938, of which about 10,000 would be in the industrial
district of Murmansk itself.
Attempts with domestic reindeer in Novaya Zemlya before the Revolution
were unsuccessful, although wild reindeer are found here in great numbers.
The first attempts to develop the industry here were made in 1928 by
Sevkraigostorg (the Trading Office for the Northern Regions). This organi–
zation sent a large herd of reindeer with an adequate number of herdsmen to
Novaya Zemlya but lack of knowledge of the local conditions prevented success.
When the Soviet Academy of Science came to the assistance of the local state
farm in 1930, progress was made, especially after the 1932 survey of pastures.
No data are available regarding the number of reindeer in Novaya Zemlya at
present.
After the Revolution, one of the first undertakings of the Soviet
authorities was an attempt to improve the bread, and to organize a scientific
crusade against those diseases which were periodically depleting the herds
and badly damaging the products of the reindeer industry. (For instance,
one parasite, the warble fly ( Oedemagena tarandi ), sometimes depreciated
the value of reindeer hides 75 to 80%.) A number of special studies were
undertaken for the prevention of epizootics, veterinary facilities were
provided on an ever-growing scale, mass vaccination of the reindeer was
introduced, and experimental breeding farms were organized. In 1932 the
Reindeer T o r ust opened courses to provide specialists in reindeer breeding;
subsequently a number of technical schools were opened for the same purpose.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

In the course of the First Five-Year Plan over 120 zootechnical and
veterinarian aid posts were opened. As early as 1924 two special labora–
tories were established in Salekhard and Izhma and assigned the task of
studying methods of fighting anthrax. Later studies on the prevention of
reindeer diseases were carried out by the Institute of Urogravidantherapy.
It is reported that such diseases as anthrax no longer threaten the reindeer
of the Soviet North.
In 1931 a special Institute of Reindeer Breeding was founded in Leningrad.
It sponsors various projects to foster reindeer breeding, conducts research
work, organizes expeditions to the Far North in order to study local condi–
tions of husbandry, publishes literature on the subject, etc. Since 1936
the institute has functioned as a branch of the All-Union Institute of Polar
Agriculture.
In 1936 Glavsevmorput (Northern Sea Route Administration) submitted to
the government a project for the establishment of three scientific research
institutes at Obdorsk, Igarka, and Yakutsk for the study of agriculture and
animal husbandry in the Arctic. Within the framework of these institutions
14 district stations were to be opened, to embrace all Yakutia and the
northern sections of the Ob-Irtysk and the Yenisei regions. This network
of scientific institutions was to study the native animals, work on the
problems of reindeer transportation, and train specialists from among the
natives.
On the eve of World War II, 4 regional stations and 5 zootechnical
bases in the Far North were devoting their work to the d problems of rein–
deer husbandry exclusively. An inventory of better-bred stocks was taken
in some districts, and the method of artificial insemination has been applied.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Concentrated fodders and portable corrals are used effectively in many
places. Methods of more efficient protection of reindeer against wild
animals, the wolf in particular, were studied. (In 1926-27 approximately
75,000 reindeer were victims of wild animals.) A special set of rules for
reindeer breeding was worked out and decreed by the government, these decrees
regulate the use of pastures, prescribe the obligatory zootechnical and
veterinary measures, etc. A periodical called The Soviet Reindeer Industry
is published several times a year, and is devoted to various problems of
reindeer husbandry and technology
State farms and collective farms are considered by the Soviet govern–
ment as the main channels for application of the achievements of science
and better methods in reindeer breeding, and mass collectivization in the
Far North began in 1929. However, the private segment in animal husbandry
has been for years more important in the North than in any other part of
the U.S.S.R.; this is especially g true regarding reindeer breeding in the
most northern districts of the Asiatic Far North. In 1937, 85.5% of the
reindeer on the Chukhotsk Peninsula and 59% of the ones in the Khabarovsk
Sever were still the individual property of the natives. By January 1, 1937,
19 collective farms had been established by Glavsevmorput. Of “about 2,000,000
reindeer” indicated by the Great Soviet Encyclopedia for 1940, 436,000 are
listed as the property of collective farms, while those of the state farms
is estimated at 243,000. A 1939 publication of the Gosplan listed 36 “rein–
deer state farms.” One of the largest of them is in Novaya Zemlya. Some
of the reindeer state farms received from the government an allotment of
1,000,000 to 2,000,000 hectares of land.
It was reported that the best collective farms achieved considerable

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

success in the annual increases of their herds. These farms contributed
also to better organization of reindeer transportation. At present the
reindeer farms interested in incomes from transportation services submit
their claims to the local district administration, which works out a plan
of transportation operations and allocates the demand among the collective
farms; then, according to the plan, orders for the required number of
reindeer, sledges, drivers, etc., are issued.
Reindeer Herding
Efficient methods of herding and proper utilization of pastures
constitute the basis for successful reindeer breeding. Almost 68% of the
northern prairie is considered suitable for pasture in the summer; of this
39% is also suitable for winter grazing. At the end of summer the rein–
deer are driven southward toward the forest border. In spring a northward
shift takes place. Such seasonal drives in the Bolshezemelskaia Tundra
sometimes take s the reindeer more than 300 miles to the south. At the
Lena the distance between the extreme points of movement is usually from
110 to 125 miles.
Approximately 400 far northern plants, that is, about one-third of
all plants known there, may be used by the reindeer as fodder; lichens
are especially important, for they preserve their nourishing value all
year round, which makes them the important winter food. The animals,
perhaps by their sense of smell, find the lichens underneath the snow and
uncover them by pawing. Some lichens, however, grow only 0.3 to 0.4 centi–
meter a year. It may take ten years before they re-establish themselves
on overgrazed land; hence overgrazing presents one of the chief difficulties

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

to reindeer breeders.
In the U.S.S.R. a systematic investigation of lichen growth was first
undertaken by two stations of the Institute of Reindeer Breeding, Salaskin
(at Oksino on the Kola Peninsula) and Igoshina (at Labytnang on the lower
course of the Ob). This study made it possible to work out a theoretical
basis for choice of pasturage. Grazing should not exceed a certain limit;
a sufficient quantity of viable lichen bases must be left for recovery of
the pasture. Also the propagation of such valuable and comparatively quick–
growing fodder lichens as Cladonia rengifera and [: ] C. uncialis is
practiced.
In 1932 the institute made surveys of pastures, sometimes from the
air, and grazing grounds were divided by the government so as to avoid
overgrazing. From 40 to 70 hectares of pasture per year is required for
each reindeer, according to Soviet sources. (The United States Dept. of
Agriculture studies of carrying capacity of pastures made by pasturing
reindeer within fences in Alaska indicate 33 acres as the minimum year-long
grazing area requirement for one reindeer.) Such norms made it possible to
establish the capacity of each territory and apportion the number of rein–
deer accordingly. The haphazard movement of peoples and herds were brought
under control. Long journeys from winter to summer feeding grounds were
reduced to a minim.
Reindeer have natural periods of loss and gain, with some variations
dependent on age, sex, and castration. Winter is generally their lean season,
while during summer they fatten, gaining as much as 3/4 of a pound a day in
the Malozemelskaia Tundra. The increase in weight at peak-condition periods
reaches as much as 60 pounds in steers and 40 to 50 pounds in other animals.

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In winter the reindeer spend about 11 hours a day feeding. They may be
maintained in good condition on cultivated fodder, such as hay, grain,
fish, and bone flour. Over 13 pounds of fodder is required daily by a
nonworking animal. About 4 pounds of salt a year is consumed by reindeer
in pasture and 5 pounds in a feed lot. During World War II, when reindeer
were used on the northernmost front, artificial fodders proved to be very
useful.
Reindeer are herded much as sheep are on the large western ranges in
the United States, by herders following the animals as they move about. In
selecting pastures, not only the question of fodder is considered, but also
the problem of the insects which attack the animals during the warm season.
The reindeer requires protection from insects either by locating summer
pastures on higher ground exposed to the wind, or by the use of fly repell a e nts
and similar devices. A reindeer may lose as much as 125 grams of blood a
day if exposed to mass attacks of mosquitoes, and cases have been recorded
of animals dying from insect bites.
A reindeer herd should be constantly watched. They are marked by
cutting or notching the ears; or a metal tag or button may be used for
identification. The natives are skillful in identifying each individual
animal; it is said that in one of the nomad languages there are 16 different
words to designate various shades of the gray-brown color of the local
reindeer.
Trained dogs are useful to herders. When the United States made a
first appropriation of $6,000 for the introduction of reindeer in Alaska
Dr. Shel [: ] d on Jackson sent a notice to the Scandinavian newspapers in the
United States, seeking the services of experienced Scandinavians acquainted

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

with methods of reindeer breeding in Lapland. In the great majority of
the 250 answers received, it was stated that the trained dogs of Lapland
were necessary for herding. When the first superintendent of the Alaskan
Teller Reindeer Station, William A. Kjellman, was sent to Lapland, his
assignment was to bring not only Lapps but dogs.
However, Soviet herders rely on dogs less than do the Scandinavian
Lapps. The Nenets and Komi herders use dogs more than anyone else in the
Soviet Far North, the Evenki and Yakutians seldom use them. Generally,
the farther from the Kola Peninsula toward the Lena, the less use is made
of dogs, and east of the Lena up to the Chukhotsk Peninsula, the reindeer
breeders have never used dogs in herding until recently. Shortly before
World War II, the utilization of dogs in herding somehow became known in
the Bulun district of Yakutia, in Chukhotsk and Koriak districts, and in
the Khabarovsk region. With a few exceptions, dogs are not used even now
in herding in the T t aiga, although experiments have proved that they can be
useful there.
Reindeer are castrated to produce steers for meat and to reduce the
number of bucks to a proper proportion of the herd. Fawn crops average
between 50% and 60% of the adult doe population. Male and female fawns
occur in about equal numbers. Twin fawns are rare. The average doe breeds
to an age of 10 to 12 years. The newborn fawns weighs from 7 to 16 pounds.
The size of a herd may vary from 100 or 150 head to 3,000. The desirable
size for the Komi and Nenet herds, as advocated by Soviet specialists, ranges
from 1,200 to 1,500 animals. While larger herds in open country are not
objectionable ; , on land even partially forested, herds of from 250 to 600
animals are more desirable. From 5 to 6 herdsmen are required to take care

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

of 2,000 Lead according to experience in the Murmansk region.
Utilization of the Reindeer
For centuries reindeer breeding has been one of the main occupations
(sometimes the only one) of a great many tribes living on the northern
prairie and at the northern border of the forest. The nomads had mastered
the art of making full use of the “all provider.” However, the emphasis
placed on various forms of reindeer utilization differs from region to
region, for instance, riding or milking is not practiced by all the natives
of the Far North. On the Kola Peninsula, in the Archangel region, and in
the region of Omsk, the utmost importance is attached to the reindeer’s
meat and skin; but in the Krasnoiarsk region and forested districts of
Yakutia the reindeer has been appreciated mainly as a draft animal. In some
forest districts of the Krasnoiarsk region, and in the Tobolsk district of
the Omsk region, reindeer milk is considered important.
The folk tales of the Nentsi express colorfully the natives’ apprecia–
tion of the reindeer harnessed to a sledge and say that it is “second to
none in the world.” What the reindeer meant for the natives was emphasized
in Russian Asia (22), published by the Resettlement Administration of the
Imperial Government in 1914 [translation]: “[the reindeer] is so useful that
in the whole animal kingdom you may find hardly another creature which might
equal it. In the full meaning of the world there is nothing in this remarkable
animal which is not used in the everyday practice of the natives of the
North who are blessed by its possession. Its fatty milk, similar to cream,
serves as an excellent beverage and is used in the preparation of a very
tasty cheese. Meat, internal organs, marrow, brains, and the blood are used

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

for food; also the antlers, before ossifying, may be used for food; jelly
can be made of them, which is considered not only tasty but also as a
medicinal food. The skin is used for making the natives’ clothes as well
as for shelters. All kinds of household items are made of the bones and
the ossified antlers: knives, forks, spoons, sewing needles, etc. Hollowed–
out hoofs are used instead of cups and glasses. The sinews are used for
thread and the hair for spinning and weaving. The intestines are used in
the preparation of sausages stuffed with a mixture of blood and various roots.
Candles are made of the fat. The stomach is dried and serves as a substitute
for kitchen utensils. Even the content of the stomach, if used immediately
after the reindeer is slaughtered, is not wasted; the natives consider it
a delicacy and are only too glad to use it as food. Considering the complete
absence of roads in the tundra, the reindeer serves as the only pack and
transportation animal which can move with ease over the most boggy ground
and through snows of any depth.”
Three main types of reindeer breeding are distinguished by the Soviet
specialists at present: ( 1 ) Breeding which emphasizes meat as the main product
and the skin as a product of secondary importance. This type of breeding
requires the maintenance of a proportionally large number of gelded reindeer
rather than fawns or does (about 37%); it prevails in the eastern tundra, on
the Chukhotsk Peninsula and in the Koriak district. ( 2 ) Breeding with
emphasis on skin production; it is developed mainly in the Murmansk region,
in Nenets and Iamalo-Nen e ts districts, and in Komi A.S.S.R. The best results
here are achieved by slaughtering fawns in the fall and keeping herds with
a possible maximum number of does (up to 45%). ( 3 ) Breeding with emphasis
on the reindeer as a draft animal, which calls for a smaller number of does

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

in the herds (about 30%); it prevails in the forest zone where reindeer
milk is also widely utilized.
Since the importance of reindeer transportation on the northern prairies
is great, Soviet authorities consider it their ta ks sk to obtain a bread of
animals which will be equally good as suppliers of meat and as draft animals.
This is especially important for reindeer breeders in Yakutia, Chukhotsk
Peninsula, Ismalo-Nen e ts and Taimyr districts.
Draft Animals . Without the reindeer, remarkable for endurance, strength,
and speed in drawing sledges, much of the Soviet Far North could hardly be
inhabited permanently. The chief advantage of reindeer over dog transporta–
tion is that a grazing animal finds its own food, while provisions must be
carried for dogs and their maintenance often proves difficult. Also, in an
emergency the reindeer is a source of food to its master. Windy weather is
difficult for the dog travel, especially when heading into the wind, while
reindeer naturally travel to windward, even in a blizzard, this being a trait
they have from their wild forebears, the caribou. The reindeer does not mind
a temperature of −80°F.; its broad, deeply cleft hoofs fit it admirably
for traveling over the broken snow, and it makes it way through areas of
deep snow more easily than even a horse. Gelded reindeer between the ages
of 4 and 12 are preferred for drawing sledges. The training of animals
for this service starts with the third winter.
The Reindeer Breeding Branch of the All-Union Institute of Polar
Agriculture undertook a number of projects for improvement of the technique
of reindeer transportation. Serious defects were found in the traditional
equipment used by the natives, which f v aried from place to place. For instance,
on the Kola Peninsula and in Karelia the natives use harness with a collar,

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

but breast straps or neck bands, with all kinds of local modifications, are
used in the rest of the Far North. When the Samoyeds, harness a few animals to draw
a sledge, they place the foremost one on the left side; placing the leader
on the right side is called the dolganski , method of harnessing. To urge
the reindeer to go faster, the natives prod them rather cruelly in the back
with a long birch pole which has a bone button affixed to its end. The
Nentsi almost never use reindeer for riding. The sledge used for transport–
ing heavy loads is called narta . It may be 3 meters long; the distance
between runners is up to 80 centimeters. In building their narta the natives
formerly used ropes and wooden rails only, since iron nails were unobtainable,
and, besides, iron breaks easily under the low temperatures of the Arctic.
Freight up to 770 pounds may be loaded on such a narta , drawn usually by
four reindeer.
Newly devised equipment enables the adoption of reindeer for services
to the Red Cross, such as carrying stretchers and transporting the sick,
while a new harness recently devised makes it possible to use reindeer for
work which until recently has been considered too heavy for them, such as
plowing and harrowing.
The Encyclopedia Americana indicates that full-grown reindeer can draw
a sledge with a load of 300 pounds and travel at the rate of 100 miles a day.
w v arious sources of information, however, give different figures in this
respect, since much depends upon the size of the reindeer in a given region,
the habits of the natives, and the care they display regarding their animals.
According to the Soviet Resettlement Administration, the reindeer, without
being fed, easily makes 65 miles in 10 to 12 [: ] hours, provided it is
permitted to stop for 1 or 2 minutes every 6 or 7 miles; however, cases

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

of reindeer covering a distance of more than 130 miles in 24 hours are not at all
rare. N.N. Urvantsev reported in 1928 that in the course of his expedition he
traveled on one occasion from Norilsk to Dudinka in 5 hours and 37 minutes,
having covered a distance of about 62 miles.
Interesting records were established at special reindeer races organized
periodically by the Soviet government. In their primitive form, such races
have been popular among the tundra natives from time immemorial and are still
on the programs of the yearly reindeer breeders’ festivals. The names of the
victors are retained in the memory of reindeer breeders for years. Reindeer
races were introduced in their modern form in the 1920’s. At the races held
in the Leningrad hippodrome between December 6, 1931, and February 7, 1932.
the record of the winning troika (three reindeer harnessed abreast) was 1,600
meters in 2 minutes and 39 seconds. These reindeer were from the Kola
Peninsula. In 1933, at the races in Narian-Mar, Nenet National District,
the best results were achieved by four reindeer of local breed, harnessed
abreast, which covered 1,380 meters in 2 minutes and 10 seconds. At the race
in Lovozero, Murmansk region, on December 7, 1938, the distance of 1,600
meters was covered by four reindeer harnessed abreast in 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
In tests of the reindeer’s endurance and weight-drawing capacity the
average records achieved at the races in Yakutia in 1936 and 1937 were as
follows: for endurance, a weights of 900 to 1,000 pounds were pulled 12.4
miles by two reindeer harnessed abreast in 1 hour and 20 minutes; for maximum
weight, two reindeer harnessed abreast pulled a load of 2,200 to 5,500
pounds a distance of 400 meters.
The following speed and average load were recommended in 1948 by the
Administration of the Far North of the Ministry of Agriculture of the

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

R.S.F.S.R. for reindeer continually employed for transportation services.
Table III. Norms Recommended for Reindeer Transportation (26).
Type of road Load on sledges with
2 reindeer, in kg.
Speed,
km. per hr.
Distance per day,
in km.
Good smooth road 300 4-5 25-30
150 7-8 45-50
120 9-10 55-60
Average tundra road 200 4-5 25-30
100 7-8 45-50
80 9-10 55-60
Poor tundra road 100 4-5 25-30
50 7-8 45-50
40 9-10 55-60
The Administration also worked out a set of recommendations which should
be followed in the use of reindeer for commercial transportation. A new harness,
devised recently by a member of the staff of the All-Union Institute of Polar
Agriculture, S. P. Popov, makes it possible to increase the load up to 700
or 800 and even 1,000 kilograms in nartas used on a good smooth road. The
winter reindeer transportation train ( argish ) usually consists of 24 to 30
nartas , 70 to 85 reindeer (of which 8 or 10 are kept in reserve), and 4 or
5 men. Strings of sledges in greater numbers are considered less convenient
because of the possible difficulties of finding food for a larger number of
reindeer; if a string consists of only a few sledges, the utilization of
the drivers becomes less economical.
The utilization of reindeer for riding and carrying pack loads is
important in forests and among mountains, as well as on the [: ] prairie
during the summer. Under normal conditions the reindeer may be used for

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

these services for a period of 5 to 6 years, up to an age limit of 10 years.
A 1934 United States Dept. of Agriculture publication on reindeer breed–
ing in Alaska indicates from 60 to 70 pounds as a normal pack load for an
animal which covers from 20 to 25 miles a day. The natives in Siberia
usually load as much as 60 kilograms (more than 130 pounds) on a reindeer’s
back. The Soviet Administration of the Far North, however, suggests using
the following norms for continued employment of animals for this type of
service.
Table IV. Norms for Pack-Load Carrying (26).
Type of road Load on one rein–
deer, in kg.
Speed,
km. per hr.
Distance per day,
in km.
Good smooth trail 50 4-5 25-30
35 6-7 40-45
Average broke country 40 4-5 25-30
28 6-7 40-45
Very broken country 30 4-5 25-30
20 6-7 40-45
Experiments with pack equipment have shown that the center of gravity of
the reindeer’s body lies considerably farther forward than in other transport
animals. Hence the usual type of pack equipment intended for horses proved
unsuitable, as it overloads the hind legs. A new type of saddle and pack
were cons t ructed at the Bulun Reindeer Station in Yakutia in 1937, which
allows the reindeer to carry loads up to 50 or 60% of its own live weight,
with a maximum not exceeding 80%.
The reindeer as a draft animal has proved important for Soviet hunters
and trappers in North. Trap lines are long and the Siberian hunter sometimes has

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

to cover from 30 to 45 miles a day in order to inspect them, besides, these
trap lines may be several hundred miles from the hunter’s home. Under these
conditions reindeer transport becomes as indispensable basis for the fur
trade, and possession of reindeer strongly affects the incomes of members
of the collective farms engaged in hunting and trapping. For instance in
1945, the Evenki National Region, the yearly income from hunting averaged
only 165 rubles in the case of a farmer without reindeer; for those who had
less than 40 reindeer the income was 2,499 rubles; and for those with more
than 40 reindeer, 3,469 rubles.
Observations of reindeer under saddle and pack established the fact that
animal
the [: ] animal has a constant length of stride on a level trail and changes it
with strict regularity, depending upon the angle of slopes and ascents. This
discovery made it possible to use the reindeer stride as a measure of length
of the roadway traveled by geological, topographical, and other research
expeditions.
The modernization of transportation methods does not decrease the
reliance on reindeer transport in the Soviet North; on the contrary, its
importance has been constantly increasing. A publication of Glavsevmorput,
1939, says: “Numerous large scale projects of the Far North were material–
ized almost exclusively with the aid of the reindeer transport. In many
regions of the Far North, reindeer transport is the basic means of conveying
people and freight. Also in strengthening the defense of our country, the
reindeer may occupy not the last place.” A 1948 publication by the Far North
Administration calls the reindeer transportation “irreplaceable” and states
that “in the majority of the regions of the Far North the demand for reindeer
transportation has been increasing yearly.”

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Carrying good s from polar sea ports southward across the prairie and
even into the forest, delivering meat, fish, skins, furs, and a number of
other raw materials, is done by reindeer transport. Thousands of reindeer
and men are engaged in this work. In 1936, in the northern regions of
Yak u tia, 2,680,000 rubles, or 21.8% of the gross incomes of collective f o a rms,
came from reindeer transport services. The corresponding figures for the
Iamalo-Nenet s district was 403, 0 1 00 rubles or 15%; for the Ostiako-Vogul
district, 638,700 rubles or 16%. In 1946 the income from reindeer transporta–
tion constituted 17% of the total income of the collective farms in the Far
North, while for some of them it [: ] was the basic income.
As a matter of curiosity it may be added here that the elk ( Alces alces )
may become a serious competitor to reindeer in some parts of the northern
forest. In accordance with an order of the Yakutian government, whose
country is very rich in elk, experiments were made in 1936 at the Yakutsk
Agricultural Experimental station in training and driving the elk. The
tests were continued in 1937 and proved that the elk, if caught at the age
of one month, is easily handled and domesticated, readily fed, and as a
draft animal shows high ability.
In the northern districts of the Tiumen region, E K rasnoiarsk Krai,
Yakutia, and other districts of the Far North, there are established
reindeer fr e ighting lines. Every 40 or 50 kilometers special shelters have
been built — chumy , made of skins for winter and tarpaulins for summer.
They are equipped with stoves and provide comfortable resting places for
the drivers; also feed for reindeer is kept in some of them. These freight–
ing lines are so planned that the overnight stopping places are at good
pastures. The length of some of these lines reaches 1,000 [: ] kilometers.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Meat . Meat is another entry on the list of articles and services
offered by reindeer breeding. The full-grown reindeer yields 90 to 110
pounds of meat on the average, the autumn-killed fawn 45 to 55 pounds.
The animal slaughtering is usually at the end of summer. In their estimates
of meat sources of the Arctic, Soviet statisticians do not overlook the
meat of the wild reindeer (caribou). It is regarded as a potentially
important item of food on the Taimyr Peninsula as well as in the territory
between the rivers of Iana and Indigirka. Workers and employees of the
governmental industrial project in Nordvik were b g etting about 6,000 caribou
a year from the natives in 1940; it is said that an additional 3,000 or
4,000 could be easily used without damage to the local herds. Between the
Iana and Indigirka, approximately 30,000 caribou were used in a year; in
1940 the officials estimated that delivery of about 1,000 tons of meat per
year could be easily arranged in this district. Better methods of hunting
and utilization of airplanes for scouting the caribou herds were suggested
in order to increase the yield.
In composition reindeer meat does not differ much from beef or veal
of the same grade, but it differs slightly in flavor. It is fine in texture
and most of the meat is tender. The Russians consider that the most
desirable cut is the round, which they use for steaks or roasting; the
bottom round, which is less tender, can be used best for pot roast or in
soup. Reindeer meat finds a good market far to the south; somewhat as
Scandinavian reindeer meat does in Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. Its
importance in the Asiatic Far North may be seen from the following table:

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

Table V. Consumption of Reindeer Meat in Relation to Total
Consumption of Meat in the Asiatic Far North (13).
Geographical Regions All meat,
in tons
Percentage of
reindeer meat
Omsky Sever: 3,650 73.7
Ostiako-Vogul district 1,651 44.4
Iamalo-Nenet district 1,998 97.9
Yeniseisk Sever: 1,299 75.8
Turukhansky district 271 33.6
Igarka district 101 4.0
Evenki district 392 94.4
Taimyr district 535 97.2
Yakutsk North (16 districts) 1,528 52.2
Chukhotsk district 2,591 98.9
Total 9,068 77.6
As of 1940 the yearly slaughter of reindeer amounted to about 300,000
animals. In the Murmansk district the reindeer meat production as planned
for 1937 amounted to 607 tons.
Stressing nutrition and calorie content, Soviet authorities consider
reindeer meat one of the best meats. Soviet tests claim that it is several
times richer in vitamins than beef or veal; it is rich in vitamin B 2 . The
[: ]
October 1950 issue of the Soviet magazine Priroda asserts that recent investi–
gations showed 4.2 mg. of ascorbic acid as a minimum found in reindeer meat.
Table VI. Chemical Content of Reindeer Meat (26).
Water Albumen Fat Carbohydrates Minerals Calories per kg.
Meat of a
gelded rein–
deer (average
fatness
63.74 18.61 16.05 0.60 1.0 2,269
Meat of a fawn
(average fatness)
70.76 21.31 5.95 074 1.24 1,452

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

The Tafal [: ] rsk reindeer found in the Irkutsk region is one of the best
producers of meat; the 4 or 5-month-old fawns are 80 to 90 pounds dressed
weight. The gelded reindeer of the Chukhotsk Peninsula gives about 130
pounds, sometimes up to 180 pounds of meat. At an outdoor temperature of
2 or 3°C. fresh reindeer meat can be kept safely in the open for 4 or 5 days.
If frozen, it can be preserved for a year. Salted meat may be shipped and
retained for one year at a temperature of + 3 to −1°C. Steaks are used
either fresh, dried, salted, or smoked; salted meat is used most often.
Natives usually dry the ribs and legs in the open air and then slightly
smoke them; in this form the meat is easily carried on long journeys. The
tongues are considered a great delicacy; they contain from 8 to 25 mg. % of
ascorbic acid, according to the article in Priroda .
Until relatively recent times reindeer liver was not fully appreciated.
For instance, a 1929 booklet of reindeer recipes, published by the Bureau
of Home Economics, United States Dept. of Agriculture (30), refers to it
rather modestly as a product which “when properly prepared compares favorably
in tenderness and flavor with other kinds.” The conclusion of Soviet
specialists, however, bases upon the research of the Murmansk technological
expedition of the Institute of Reindeer Breeding in 1932, are is that a pat e é
of such high quality may be made of the reindeer liver that it “undoubtedly
could serve as an item for export.” According to Priroda , reindeer liver
contains from 60 to 137 % mg. of ascorbic acid, while that of cattle contains
6 to 20 % mg. only. Proper methods for utilizing the kidneys, brain, lungs,
heart, and head as food have been devised recently. The reindeer’s melted
fat is widely used; in taste, it is similar to lamb fat.
Hides . Reindeer hide, after proper dressing, is very soft and pliable.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

It provides the principal clothing material for the natives. From it they
make garments, including boots, mittens, socks, leggings, trousers, sleeping
bags, etc. It is used also for bedding, being warm and easily transported;
an average skin weighs only from 4 to 6 pounds. Fawn hides are used as
winter clothing with the fur on the outer side; such furs are very warm.
Reindeer hides provide an excellent leather for the industrial manufacture
of kid gloves, leather jackets, etc. the “chamois” prepared from the
reindeer skin, especially that of the fawn, has a high value on the world’s
market; it is used in the manufacture of precision instruments, optical
instruments, and those used in aviation.
By-Products . As a result of years of technological research of the
Institute of Reindeer Breeding, reindeer by-products are widely utilized
in industry at present. The blood is salted and as a product rich in
[: ] albumin is used for food and as an admixture in concentrated
forages. Together with bones and viscera it is used in the preparation
of dog food. It is also used in the manufacture of glue for plywood and
veneer. As a matter of fact, the reindeer if properly slaughtered gives
proportionally more blood than any other domestic animal (on the average,
6.76% in the case of females and 5.44% in the case of males). No industrial
utilization was made of reindeer intestines until in 1932 when the Institute
of Reindeer Breeding made the first tests in Leningrad. Then the expedition
of 1935, sent by the Institute to organize the reindeer slaughterhouses
in the Nenet region, proceeded with the experiments which were repeated
in 1936. The studies proved that certain parts of reindeer intestines do
not differ in their wall strength from those of cattle, and the manufacture
of sausage casing from them can be carried out with the usual methods.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

The strength of the intestinal walls was found to increase considerably
if immediately after removal from the carcass they are washed with water
and kept for 25 or 30 days in salt. However, a disadvantage of the casings
manufactured from reindeer intestines is their small diameter which does
not conform with the standard requirements of the market.
Reindeer hair is also highly valued because each hair is hollow,
which makes it useful for manufacturing life preservers and upholstery.
The investigation made by the Textile Research Institute in 1929 and con–
tinued by the Institute of Reindeer Breeding since 1932 proved that the
reindeer down (the soft woolly part of the hair) is equal in quality to
the highest grade of merino wool. However, the presence of a large quantity
of dead, coarse, brittle fibers in the hair made it impossible for use in
textile manufacturing. Finding rational methods of separating down from
brittle fibers was a task set for Soviet scientists; no information is
available as to what progress has been made toward solving the problem.
The sinews of the reindeer are also utilized. They are separated from
the meat and dried. From them the natives skillfully make thread which
they use for sewing both shoes and other clothing.
Reindeer hoofs are used for the production of keratin glue, plastics,
hoof meal, hoof coal, and ferrocyanide of potash. They cannot be used,
however, in the manufacture of buttons and other notions because of the
insignificant thickness of their walls (0.1 to 0.2 cm.).
Antlers are a nother important by-product of the industry. They are not
only employed for decorative purposes, but also for making knife handles and
parts of harness; they are also used in the manufacture of glue. As early
as 1866, in the Archangel Region, a merchant names Volodin made the first
p. 42 of Tereshtenko
Reindeer Breeding
Chese and milk [: neg]-
5th line from bottom
ch. 4 [: butter ] from same?

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

successful attempt to manufacture glue from reindeer antlers for the market.
The glue obtained from the antlers is of very high quality. As a result
of the technological research of the Institute of Reindeer Breeding the
methods of glue production were improved to the point, where, by its quality,
it could easily compete with the standards established for exported glue.
The weight of the product reaches from 10 to 20% of the weight of the
antlers. The weight of the antlers collected per year between 1933-36 was
estimated by various authors at 1,412 to 4,740 tons. As another by-product,
photogelatin was obtained from the antlers; no information is available
about its 2 / quality.
In some regions of the Far North, reindeer milk is considered a
valuable product. From 0.2 to 0.3 liters of milk a day can be obtained.
Karagask reindeer in the Saian ranges give as much as 1 liter of milk a
day. In A a ppearance and taste it compares with cream. Its chemical
content, according to Soviet data of 1948, is as follows: water, 67.7%;
fat, 17.1% casein, 10.9%; milk sugar, 2.8%; minerals, 1.5%. Thus, it
contains about 3 times more minerals and 4 or 5 times more fat than cow’s
milk. From reindeer milk both butter and cheese are prepared. In chemical
content the butter contains 15% water, 83.5% fat, 1.4% albumin and other
organic substances, 0.1% minerals; thus it approximates butter prepared
from cow’s milk. It melts at a temperature of 36 to 40°C. On the average,
16% of butter can be obtained from reindeer milk and 25 to 28% of cheese.
The cheese reminds one of the sheep’s-milk cheese called brynza in Russian.
Soviet authorities assert that the reindeer industry in the U.S.S.R. is
in its initial stage only. On the basis of recent geographic surveys of
pastures the government estimates that the Soviet Far North may provide

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

fodder for about 10,000,000 reindeer, and that the task is not only to
improve the breed of reindeer but also to at least triple the available
herds. It is said that whether this goal will be reached will depend upon
the general economic development of the Soviet Far North; but this, in turn,
may depend considerably upon the progress of the reindeer industry.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

In Russian:

1. Akademia Nauk S.S.S.R. Trudy Poliarnoi Komissii (Works of the Committee
for the Polar Regions), vol.14, Leningrad, 1934, pp. 54-69.

2. Arkticheskogo Instituta, Trudy . (Transactions of the Arctic Institute),
1935, Vol.22.

3. Bobrinskoi, N.A., ed. Opredelitel Mlekopitaivshchikhy S.S.S.R. (Identi–
fication of the Mammals in the U.S.S.R.). Moscow, 1944.

4. Bol, V.K. and Nikolaevski, L.D. “O Roste i Sbrasyvanii Rogov u Severnogo
Olenia.” (Regarding the Growth and Casting of the Reindeer
Antlers) Sovetskoe Olenevodstvo , vol.8, 1936, pp.45-59.

5. Bunakov, E.B. “Economicheskoe Obosnoyanie Razvitia Olenevodstva
Murmanskogo Kraia” (The Economic Foundation of the Reindeer
breeding in the Murmansk District). Sovetskoe Olenevodstvo ,
vol.4, 1935, pp.107-162.

6. Debel, D.B. “Ispolzovanie Rogovogo Bashmaka Severnogo Olenia”
(Utilization of the Reindeer Hoof). Sovetskoe Olenevodstvo ,
vol.8, 1936, pp.177-180.

7. Dushechkin, V.I. “Olenii Pastbishcha v Kharaulakhskykh Gorakh (Yakutia)”
(Reindeer Ranges in the Kharaulakh Mountains (Yakutya)). Trudy
Arkticheskogo Instituta, vol.63, pp.209-243.

8. Eikhfeld, I.G. and Chmora, N.Y. “Selsko-Khoziaistvennoe Osvoenie
Krainego Severa” (Agricultural Reclamation of the Far North).
Materialy Soveshchania po nauchvo-izsledovatelskoi rabote Na
Krainem Severe, 27/II-3/III, 1936. Moscow, Vsesoiuznaia
Akademiya Selsko-Khoziaistvennykh Nauk, Moskva, 1937.

9. Geptner, V.G. and Tsalkin, V.I. Oleni S.S.R. Sistematika i zoogeografia
(The Reindeer of the U.S.S.R. Classification and Zoogeography).
Moscow, Moskovskoe Obshchestvo Ispytatelei Prirody, 1947.

10. Gorodkov, B.N. “Itogi Izuchenia Prirosta Lishainikov” (Results of the
Study of the Growth of lichens). Sovetskoe Olenovodstvo ,
vol.8, 1936.

11. ----. ed. “Sistemy Vypasa Olenei i Pastbishchnoe Khoziaistvo Murmanskogo
Okruga” (Reindeer Pastures and Vegetation Cover of the Murmansk
District). Trudy Arkticheskogo Institut, vol.72, Leningrad, 1936.

12. Govorukhin, V.S. “Sezonnye Pastbishcha Severnogo Olenia” (Seasonal
Pastures in the Far North). Kalendar Prirody S.S.S.R., vol.2,
Moscow, 1949, pp.313-338.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R. - Bibliography

13. Khrapal, A.A. Selskoe Khoziastvo Aziatskogo Severa . Moscow,
Glavsevmorput, 1940.

14. Liverovski, Y.A. and Kolesnikov, B.P. Priroda Yuzhnoi Poloviny
Sovetskogo Dalnego Vostoka. (The Nature of the Southern
Part of the Soviet Far East). Moscow, Akademia Nauk S.S.S.R.
Institute Geografii, 1949.

15. Lukashevski, V.A. and Kharin, P.S. “Svoistva Oleniei Shersti-Lenki”
(The Properties of the Reindeer Hair). Sovetskoe Olenevodstvo ,
vol.4, 1935, pp.163-176.

16. K Mirovich, A.F. “K Voprosu ob Ispolzovanii Kishek Severnogo Olenia dlia
Kolbasnogo Proizvodstva” (On the Utilization of the
Intestines of Reindeer in the Manufacture of Sausage Casing).
Sovetskoi Olenevodstvo, vol.8, 1936.

17. Mutovin, M.E. and Purin, A.A. “Bogatstva Kamchatskoi Oblasti i ikh
Expluatatsia” (Natural Resources of the Kamchatka Region
and Their Exploitation). Kamchatka Petropavlovska na
Kamchatke . Shankhai, 1940, pp.155-195. “Slovo” publisher.

18. “Novoye v Ispolzovanii Severnogo Olenia i Losya dlia Transporta” (News
Regarding the Utilization of the Reindeer and the Elk for
Transportation). Trudy Nauchno-Izsledovatelskogo Instituta
Poliarnogo Zemledelia, Zhivtnovodstva i Promyslovogo
Khoziaistva. Trudy , Seriia Olenevodstva , vol.6, 1939.

19. Pinegin, N.V. Novaya Zemlya , Sevkraiz, 1935.

20. Rodionov, K.V. “Materialy po Izuchaniu Technologicheskikh Svoistv
Severnogo Olenia.” (Materials Regarding the Study of the
Technological Properties of the Reindeer Antlers).
Sovetskoe Olenevodstvo , vol.6, 1936, pp.51-62.

21 Rodionov, K.V. “Voprosy Tekhnologii Produktov Olenevodstva” (Questions
of the Technology of the Reindeer Products). Sovetskoe
Olenevodstvo, vol.4, 1935.

22. Russian Asia , vol.1, 2. St. Petersburg, Resettlement Administration, 1914.

23. Sdobnikov, V. and Romanov, A. “O Myasnykh Respursakh v Arktike”
(Concerning the Meat Resources in the Arctic). Sovetskaia
Arctica . no.9, 1940, pp.23-36.

24. Sochava, V.G., ed. “Olenevodstvo. Olenii Pastbishcha i Priemy Vypasa
Olenei v Anadyrskom Krae” (The Reindeer Ranges and Methods
of Pasturing of the Reindeer in the Anadyr Region).
Transactions of the Arctic Institute of the U.S.S.R., vol.62,
Leningrad, 1936.

EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R. - Bibliography

25. Varnek, P.A. “Russkii Sever v Pervuiu Mirovuiu Voinu” (The Russian
North in the First World War). Morskie Zapiski , Pub. by
Obshchestvo Byvshikh Ofitserov v Amerike. Vol.7, no.1,
March 1949, pp.23-25.

26. Zhigunov, P.S. and Terentiev, F.A. Severnoe Olenevodstvo (Reindeer
Breeding in the North). Ministerstvo Selskogo Khozuaistva
R.S.F.S.R. Upravlenie Raionov Krainego Severa. Moscow, 1948.

In English:

26a. Bosworth, Joseph. A Description of Europe and the Voyage of Ohthere
and Wulfstan , written in Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred
the Great. London, 1855.

27. Laufer, Berthold. “The Reindeer and its Domestication.” Memoirs of the
American Anthropological Association, vol.4, 1917, pp.91-147.

28. Palmer, L.J. “Raising Reindeer in Alaska.” U.S. Dept. of Agric., Misc .
pub . no.207, 1934.

29. Report of the Royal Commission Appointed by Order in Council of Date May 20 ,
1919, to Investigate the Possibilities of the Reindeer and
Musk-Ox Industries in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Regions of
Canada . Ottawa, 1922.

30. Stanley, Louise. “Reindeer Recipes.” Bureau of Home Economics, U.S. Dept.
of Agric., Leaflet no.48, 1929.

V. J. Tereshtenko

Biology of Ovibos

EA-Zoology
(A. L. Rand and Vilhjalmur Stefansson)

BIOLOGY OF OVIBOS

CONTENTS
Page
Description 2
Range 4
Habits 5
Utilization 8
Bibliography 10

EA-Zoology
(A. L. Rand and Vilhjalmur Stefansson)

BIOLOGY OF OVIBOS
The bison, through v f alse analogy miscalled the buffalo, and the
ovibos, through misunderstanding or perhaps through cupidity miscalled
the musk ox, are NOrth America’s great representatives of the family
Bovidae, the one occupying the prairies of the midcontinent, the other
those of the Far North.
The ovibos ranks with caribou, seal, and whale as one of the four
animals most important to man in relation to the Far North. Its one land
rival, the caribou, may seem to lead in the competition, because some
caribou have been domesticated as reindeer; but friends of the ovibos
reply that its Latin-derived name, from ovis for sheep and bos for cattle,
truly implies that this animal possesses, as a candidate for domestication,
the combined merits of the sheep and the cow, and is thus potentially the
greatest of assets for northward colonization, being already resident in
even the most northerly arctic lands.
Ovibos , appearing in northern literature under many names, among them
northern ox or northern cattle, arctic ox or arctic ca f t tle, musk ox or musk
cattle, polar ox or polar cattle, is, as said, a member of the family Bovidae,
to which belongs our domestic cattle, as well as sheep and goats. Much has
been written of these immediate relatives, and at one time the ovibos was

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

considered a bison specialized for arctic conditions. More recent studies
show that the ovibos of northern America and the takin of the mountains of
southern Asia are the sole living representatives of a once more widespread
and diversified group, only some of which were adapted for arctic conditions.
This group is most closely related, on the one hand, to the goats and sheep,
and, on the other, to the goat antelopes, such as the Rocky Mountain goat
and the chamois.
The original home of the ovibos group seems to have been in Eurasia,
where five fossil genera are known from the Pliocene. By the next epoch,
the Pleistocene, the five genera had disappeared, another fossil genus had
evolved in Eurasia, and the group had invaded North America, where three
fossil genera appeared. Also in the Pleistocene, the two modern genera
arose, Ovibos (musk ox, polar ox) in Eurasia and America, and Budorcas
(takin) in Asia. With the close of the Pleistocene only these two modern
genera were left. Budorcas is still restricted to Asia. Ovibos lingered
on in Eurasia until the Recent period; in Europe it existed in prehistoric
times along with the last Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon men, the mammoth, and the
woolly rhinoceros; in Siberia it may have survived longer. By historic
times Ovibos existed only on the northern plains and arctic islands of
America.
Description
Ovibos moschatus is a rather stout, compact ungulate with short legs
and a very short tail. The pelage is long and shaggy, contributing materially
to a bulky appearance. The underfur is a fine, soft, woolly layer, 3 to 6
inches thick; the abundant guard hairs are very long and coarse and may reach
a length of 24 inches or more. In adult males the horns sweep downward,

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

outward, and upward in sharp hooks, the base of the horns enlarging with
age until they cover the forehead; the horns of the female are less
expanded at the base. The color of the pelage is generally deep brown to
black, with light-colored saddle and legs; varying geographically, there
is some white in the forehead and about the head, more pronounced in the
females and young; the color of the horns is dark brown to creamy white.
The adult male totals 96 inches in length; tail 4 inches; hind foot,
19 inches; height at shoulder, 59 inches; and horns on outside curve up to
29 inches in length. The males weigh up to 900 pounds; the females are
somewhat smaller. The northern animals are somewhat smaller than the more
southern.
The calf is covered with short, dark-brown, curly hair. A new-born calf
is recorded as weighing 16 pounds. The first trace of a horn core appears
at 6 months. Adult size and well-grown horns are reached at about 6 years
of age.
Three subspecies are recognized, owing to differences in size and color.
The Ovibos moschatus moschatus , the “barren-ground musk ox,” is a large
brownish subspecies with dark-colored horns and no white in the forehead,
occurring on the Canadian arctic mainland.
The Ovibos moschatus niphoecus , the “Hudson Bay musk ox,” is a black
subspecies, smaller than the subspecies O. moschatus moschatus . Their horns
are light-colored; the females are white about the head. They occur to the
northwest of Hudson Bay.
The Ovibos moschatus wardi , the “white-faced musk ox,” is a grayer
race. Their horns are of a creamy-white color. Both o the male and the
female have whiter faces, and they are longer and more slender than the

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

subspecies O. moschatus niphoecus . They occur in Greenland and the
Canadian Arctic Islands.
Range
The present range is mainland Arctic Canada between Hudson Bay and
Horton River, the Canadian Arctic Islands to the north (but not Banks, Baffin,
or Southampton islands), to northern Ellesmere Island; also in northern and
northeastern Greenland.
As said, ovibos disappeared from Eurasia before historic times , ; in America
a much wider range than at present occupied is indicated by fossil remains
of Ovibos from the central United States (perhaps correlated with the ice age)
and from the Yukon Valley. Within historic times the ovibos was known from
the arctic coast of Alaska, where it probably became extinct about 1860 or 1870.
The southern limits of the historic range in Canada originally coincided with
the northern edge of the forest west of Hudson Bay. Minor withdrawals have
occurred and the animals no longer range west of the longitude of western
Great Bear Lake. The records from northern Manitoba are all old. Parts of
this area from Hudson Bay to Horton River are still occupied by ovibos. In
Banks Island, the last were killed by Victoria Island Eskimos around 1912.
In the early part of the twentieth century it seemed as if the ovibos
might be exterminated; but extinction no longer seems to be threatened. A
population estimate made in 1930 gave the following figures: Canadian mainland, 500
animals; Canadian Arctic Islands, 12,420; North and East Greenland, 1,500;
total, 14,420 animals. However, the Greenland estimate has been questioned
as too small, and estimates as high as 10,000 animals have been made for the
northern east coast alone for about the same period. Though ovibos ha s d been
reduced perhaps 1% of their primitive number by 1930, the animals on the

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

Canadian mainland had doubled in number by 1940, and the reports from farther
north indicate s that protective laws have been successful in conserving the
species.
Habits
Though ranging the northern forest in early historic time, as the wood
bison still does, ovibos is like bison in being essentially a prairie animal,
frequenting the marshes, plains, and lower, wetter country in the summer. In
the southern part of its present range where there are willow thickets, as in
the Thelon Game Sanctuary, these are also favored. In winter they tend to
frequent higher, drier and more exposed ground, presumably where the wind
will sweep away the snow. The favored foods are sedges and grasses; willow twigs
and herbaceous plants are also eaten. There is not the pronounced change from
summer food of grass to winter food of lichens as with the caribou , ; some
lichens (reindeer moss) are eaten, probably mostly in winter. When the food
is covered with snow, the ovibos digs through with its forepaws, and pushes
aside the snow with its no c s e and head. With hoofs and nose the animal may
work through four feet of snow, but it does not seem to resemble the caribou
in actually preferring to dig for food under snowbanks.
Although there may be slight seasonal changes in the habitat occupied,
the ovibos is, in general, an inactive animal. If a herd is seen in one area
one year, the chances are that it will be there the next. Individuals appear
to move about but little. Old bulls have been recorded as not moving a half
mile all summer; a band stayed in sight of one camp for five days.
Ovibos are placid animals, usually found in small herds or medium-sized
bands, apparently spending their time grazing and resting during the day. During

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

the hot, bright arctic summer they may prefer to feed during the night.
The belief, expressed by some writers, that ovibos take shelter in valleys,
or behind boulders, from the blizzards of winter, is doubted by some observers.
Ovibos bands seem typically to consist of about 10 to 15 animals, although
smaller groups of 5 or 6, as well as lone bulls, are often reported. Where
the animals are common, herds of as many as 200 have been reported. The social
organization of these herds is imperfectly known. There seems to be some
seasonal change, the herds tending to be larger in winter. In spring herds
of bulls only may be found, but x during much of the year more than one bull
may be found in one herd. The proportion of calves in the herds is always low,
compared with many other hoofed animals. This is correlated by some with a
deduced slow rate of reproduction.
The late summer or early fall is the time of breeding. The ovibos is
polygamous and old males fight fiercely, bellowing challenge d s , pawing the
ground, and rushing at each other and meeting head on with a tremendous crash.
They also rip each other with their sharp, hooked horns, sometimes breaking
their horns in th o e se fights. Apparently bulls sometimes kill each other, for
skulls spilt open, presumably by the force of fighting heads meeting, have
been found. Not all fighting is connected with the rut, as bulls sometimes fight
and then later consort amicably in the herd.
According to present information, reproduction is slow, presumably adapted
to the relative immunity of the species to wolf predation. It is believed that
the females do not breed until 3 or 4 years old, and that ordinarily they
bear young only every other year. The usual number of young at a birth is
one, born in April, May, or perhaps June. Victoria Island Eskimos told
Stefansson that calves born early in the season, in April when temperatures

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

may drop to −50°F., often f e r eeze to death while still wet, immediately after
birth. The variation in the size of calves [: ] seen with the herds indicates
a long breeding and calving season. The cows may retire from the herd at
the calving season; some herds for a time appear to consist solely of cows
and calves. The calves are active from birth, or shortly thereafter, and
follow the mothers. They suckle to some extent until August at least.
The defense behavior of ovibos is very effective against wolves. The
band prefers to take a stand and fight on high ground. The animals range
themselves in close formation in more or less of a circle, heads out; they
may rub their noses and horns on their forelags, and paw the ground, perhaps
to intimidate attackers. If calves are in the herd, they may be in the d c enter
of the formation or they too may face out. The bulls do most of the fighting,
but all adults and even yearlings may take part. As the wolf or dog approaches,
a bull rushes out 10 to 15 yards, trying to catch the enemy on its horns,
then wheels about and returns, backing into place in line. The number of
animals that dash out depends on the number of attackers; sometimes all the
bulls may be out of line at one time. Dogs, when caught by the horns in
this way, have been severely injured, partly through being tossed high in
the air. A lone ovibos at the approach of danger may run to a cliff or a
rock against which it puts its back, ready to fight.
This defense of the ovibos, while adequate against wolves and dogs, is
the weakness of the animal when it encounters man. At the approach of hunters,
especially if they have dogs, the ovibos do not flee but adopt their d c ustomary
formation, in which the dogs can hold them indefinitely. Hunters can then
kill them at leisure with rifles, or tease them with arrows until they charge,
and then kill them with spears.

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

Ovibos have been introduced into Norway and Sp t i tsbergen, apparently
with some success. In Alaska, the United States introduced 34 animals in
1930, with the object of restocking suitable areas; this work is still in
the experimental stage.
Utilization
The hide of ovibos is too thick and hard for general use as clothing,
although it has sometimes been used for boot soles. The woolly character
of the fur, which makes it hard to clean, is another drawback to its domestic
use. Although lacking the qualities that appeal to ordinary fur markets,
there did develop for a while in the nineteenth century such a demand for
ovibos skins that Indians of the northern Canadian forest made numerous
excursions to “no man’s land” beyond the tree line to secure skins for sale
to the Hudson’s Bay Company; some Eskimos also came south into this region
(usually avoided because of mutual Eskimo-Indian dread of each other and
therefore previously a sanctuary to ovibos), and a few of the resulting
skins got into the hands of traders.
Most of the skins sold in London were sent to the United States and
Canada where they were prized for sleigh robes. This trade flourished from
about 1870 to 1900, and was important to certain groups of Indians who
depended on these hides for credit with the posts. The Company’s average
annual sale for the 20-year period preceding 1902 was 200 to 250 pelts,
although, in 1891, 1,358 pelts were sold in London.
The leisurely habits of the animals and the ease with which they are
killed have made them dependable sources of food, but these very features
make it impossible for them to survive, while left to their own resources.

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

where many men live. So long as they are in a wild state, it would seem
we must be content to have them survive in the remote, unsettled arctic
islands, and in sanctuaries on the mainland where they seem to be prospering
at the present time after years in which their existence was in jeopardy.

EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Allen, J. A. “Ontogenic and other variations in muskoxen, with a
systematic review of the muskox group, recent and extinct,”
Amer.Mus.Nat.Hist., Mem . n.s. vol.1, pt.4, 1913.

2. Clark, C.H.D. “A Biological Investigation of the Thelon Game Sanctuary,”
Nat.Mis.Can., Bull . no.96, 1940.

3. Hone, E. “The Present Status of the Muskox in Arctic North America and
Greenland with Notes on Distribution, Extirpation, Transplanta–
tion, Protection, Habits and Life History,” Amer.Comm.Internat.
Wild Life Prot., Special Pub l. no.5, 1934.

4. Stefansson, V. “The Domestication of Ovibos,” in The Northward Course of
Empire , Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1922.

5. Sverdrup, Otto. New Land. Four Years in the Arctic Regions , Longmans, Green.
London, 1904.

A. L. Rand and Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Biology of the Polar Bear

EA-Zoology
(A. L. Rand)

BIOLOGY OF THE POLAR BEAR

CONTENTS
Page
Range 2
Habitat 3
Habits 4
As Object of the Hunt 10
Edibility of the Meat 12
Bibliography 15

EA-Zoology
(A. L. Rand)

BIOLOGY OF THE POLAR BEAR
The polar bear, Thalarctos maritimus , of the family Ursidae, is a large
bear which inhabits the arctic regions of both the Old and New Worlds, occurring
in every part of the Arctic Sea and its margins, occasionally found on adjoin–
ing land, but rarely far from sea ice. The scientific name doubly states this
fact, being a combination of the Greek words, thalassa , sea, and arktos , bear,
to which has been added the Latin word, maritimus , of the sea. It is perhaps
the second largest of the bears, next after the Kadiak, the male averaging
8 feet in length, 900 pounds in weight; the female averaging a little more than
6 feet in length, 700 pounds in weight. However, males often attain more than
1,000 pounds, and a record of 1,600 pounds has been claimed. The fur is yellowish
white, dense, and hair practically covers the soles of the feet, leaving naked
only the black lips and nose tip. Apparently there is one molt a year, during
the summer months. Old males develop a sort of ma in ne and noticeably longer fur
on shoulders and forelegs (14). The polar bear is distinguished from other bears
by its pelage, by its semiaquatic nature, and by structural differences, having a
longer neck, narrower skull, and relatively small molar teeth. Subspecies have
been described, but are generally thought not sufficiently well characterized to
justify recognition ( 2 1 ).

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

Partly owing to the hairy soles of its feet, the polar bear walks sure–
footedly over the sea ice (which incidentally is not as slippery as lake ice)
and can, when hurried, attain a surprising speed, in spite of its lumbering
gallop. It is a powerful swimmer, said nearly to equal the speed of an eight–
oared European whaleboat, although readily overtaken by the exceedingly swift
Eskimo kayak.
Polar bears are solitary, except at mating time. When two are roving the
same locality, they tend to avoid each other. The young sometimes follow the
parent female well into the second year. Exceptionally, as many as 50 bears
have been reported on a few square miles of land, gathered to the neighborhood
by a stranded whale carcass. Also where they are extremely abundant locally
(as on St. Matthew Island, where several hundred were sighted within one month
on the 22-mile-long island), the younger males may consort in small groups of
three or four (6).
Range
The species has been recorded as ranging on land north to Spitsbergen and
Novaya Zemlya (8), to beyond 82° N. latitude on the north coast of Ellesmere
Island, and to 83° N. in the Franz Josef Archipelago (6). Records at sea show
an even more northerly ordinary range, or they may indicate that occasionally
individual bears may wander almost anywhere in the polar area. Among the high–
latitude records are the tracks of a bear seen by Peary, March 24, 1909, near
86°30′ N. (11), and a bear with cubs seen by Papanin near 88° N. on August 1, 1937
(10). Both of these were in the Greenland-Ellesmere sector.
The southern limits of the Pacific range are, apparently, near the middle of
Bering Sea; bears are common around the St. Lawrence and St. Matthew Islands.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

On the Asiatic coast of Bering Sea they have been observed on drifting ice
floes in the vicinity of Plover Bay; on the American coast they have rarely
been observed as far south as the mouth of the Yukon River (6). In Atlantic
waters the species has been observed on floating ice to the north of Norway,
where they reach land once or twice in a century, and on the ice off Iceland,
where they come ashore once every ten or twenty years. Occasionally they are
reported as far south as Newfoundland, the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
and in James Bay, the southerly arm of Hudson Bay, at about 55° N. latitude.
Habitat
Sea ice, especially when moving, provides the environment most favorable to
the polar bear’s existence, and has earned for him, in some localities, the name
“ice bear.” In the pack, he seeks narrow open leads, which provide him most
readily with his favorite food, the seal. In winter, the bear wanders over the
frozen sea, seeking leads or the edge of the ice and open water. When compelled
by ice conditions to do so, he can swim long distances. A polar bear has been
reported swimming 20 miles or more from land, out of sight of any sea ice. On
the other hand, during the short summer, he occasionally wanders inland, where
he may secure some food from vegetation of the grasslands fringing the Arctic Sea.
Polar bears have been observed at a distance of 100 miles inland, but such an
occurrence must be rare.
Because of the movements of the ice, the polar bear, unlike most mammals,
lacks a definite home range. When the sea freezes in autumn the range grows
more southerly, for it is coextensive with the ice; in spring it shrinks with
the shrinking ice.
The presence or absence of polar bears during a season in any region may
depend on whether or not the heavy pack comes in that year. Occasionally, bears

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

have been found stranded on islands and mainland shores, having been caught
there by mischance when the ice moved away. Then, too, the bear may find
himself “stranded” in the ocean, when the ice melts unexpectedly beneath him,
as on contact with the Gulf Stream. What may be farthest-form-land record
is that of a bear seen by the Cherevichnyi expedition on April 16, 1941, at
78°27′ N., about 500 miles from Wrangel Island, the nearest known land (3).
The polar bear distributes itself throughout its range in what is generally
an irregular fashion and dependent upon the displacement and accidents of the
ice. Further study of the species, however, may disclose a tendency toward
seasonal migrations. In the Bering Sea, Nelson observed that, as the ice closes
in the north of Bering Strait in October and November, large numbers of bears
are brought down on the drifting pack, pass through the strait, and reach
St. Lawrence and St. Matthew Islands, where they are said to winter (6). When
spring comes, according to this observation, the bears, following along the
border of the pack ice, pass north through the strait and into the Arctic Sea.
Such a movement, toward land in the autumn, toward the sea in spring, may be
considered as at least incipient migration. Apparently some bears come to land
to hibernate, but the polar bears’ travels seem controlled, as said, by the
seasonal expansion and contraction of the floating ice, beneath which lives
the game he subsists by, the seal that he can catch by plunging from above
though he cannot overtake it by swimming in open water.
Habits
To what extent the polar bear hibernates is still a moot question. Their
absence from any habitual location, as has been said, does not necessarily imply
migration, nor does it imply hibernation. It may merely indicate that the moving
ice floes have not brought the bear to that locality. Apparently it is usual for

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

gravid females to hibernate; some claim that last year’s half-grown cubs,
while still unable to fend for themselves, hibernate with the mother. Probably
mature males remain active throughout the winter. In northern Alaska and
north ea we stern Canada, according to Stefansson, the Eskimo belief was that only
gravid females hibernate (15; 16).
It can safely be assumed that the habits of the bear are similar throughout
its circumpolar range; but until closely coordinated studies have been made, it
is impossible to make a flat statement to this effect. They have been reported
as active throughout the winter in northern Greenland where, it is said, the
pregnant females retire merely to give birth to their young and where, during
spells of severe weather, females with young may take shelter in snow caves.
For hibernation, they have been known to travel some miles inland and are said
to excavate burrows in the snow, in which they sleep from December to March.
The spring is the mating season. In the extreme North, this period is during
the months of April and May; farther south, it may occur later on. During that
season the males are embattled. When couples have formed they are believed to
remain in pairs for perhaps two weeks. After this, they drift apart, reverting to
their normal way of life, which is solitary. The male reaches puberty at the age
of three; the female at about the age of two. Some claim that the female mates
but once every two or three years, but this makes it hard to explain why they
are so often reported as accompanied by cubs of two litters which are usually
taken to be this year’s and last year’s.
The young, one or two in number, are born in midwinter, the gestation period
being 10 or 11 months (9). The newborn cubs are incredibly small in size, not
larger than a well-grown rat, the weigh only about 650 grams. They develop
quickly, however, and at about the age of three months are able to follow the

EA-Zoo. Rand: Pol r a r Bear

mother bear. It is reported that about one month after the young have opened
their eyes, the mother starts migratory life with them. If this be so, then
it can be supposed that at this stage the mother bear would merely transport
her young in her mouth to another locality. They stay with their mothers
until they are able to fend for themselves, usually for about one year. Up
until the age of five months the young are still so helpless that they remain
with the mother even when she is slain by hunters. At a later age, faced with
such danger, they will flee. The solicitous female, pursued by hunters, has
been observed to urge forward her young, with pushes, nudges, and blows (14).
It has been recorded that, in the water, the young sometimes seize the female’s
short tail in their teeth and are thus borne along by the swimming parent.
When the young are unable to clamber out on the ice after their mother, she
may reach down and lift her cub out, seizing him by the nape of his neck in
her teeth. Not only must the female look after her cub, teaching him to swim
and to hunt, but she must also protect him from roving males, who, it is reported,
sometimes devour the young (14).
The young are playful and mischievous, which sometimes impedes the mother
when stalking a meal. Even adult bears have been observed to display mischievous
tendencies along with other characteristics of the upper mammalia. Calmness,
coolness, and sagacity are supposed to be the attributes of the polar bear.
But when injured or thwarted, he displays what could be called fits of rage.
Stefansson was able to confirm the Eskimo report that cub bears frequently
and grown bears occasionally will climb a snow slope repeatedly, to slide down
it on their haunches. When objects are thrown at bears they may bat them with
their paws and, if they roll well, may pursue them a while, batting them two or
a few times along the ice or land, reminding of a cat playing with a ball. In

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

one reported case, the object thrown, intended to scare the bear away so that
shooting him would not be necessary, was an empty five-gallon kerosene tin.
The bear acted as if he were interested in the noise this can made when he
batted it back, seemingly enjoying sound as well as sight of as it bounced along
in front of him.
As evidence of its sagacity, the polar bear has been credited with using a
boulder as a weapon is attacking a walrus, with using a piece of ice or snow as
a moving shield when stalking a seal on the ice, and with holding up its paw
to hide its black nose from its intended prey (14). Such reports may be merely
a part of the body of myths and legends that have grown up about the bear. But
there are many reports that may be accepted of his persistence and ingenuity in
breaking into caches that would be safe against any other animal.
In his quest for food, the bear depends least upon his sense of hearing,
more upon the senses of smell and sight. He scents his accustomed food at long
distances. Seals (chiefly the ringed seal, Phoca hispida ) provide his staple;
but when there is need he feeds on a variety of animal life and eve berries
and roots and other vegetation. There are reports that walrus are sometimes
slain and eaten and that the bears may get fatally wounded in such encounters.
Nordenskiold tells of having seen, in Spitsbergen on two occasions, the blood
and hair of reindeer which he inferred had been killed by bears (7).
Opinions and reports on the normal feeding habits of the bear are many
and often conflicting, as is the case with any wild animal not as yet thoroughly
studied in its natural habitat. For example, the polar bear is reported to feed
upon vegetation when it comes out from hibernation (6; 14). In what month the
period of hibernation ends i d s doubtful; but since the young are born in midwinter
and are able to follow the mother at about the age of three months, it is

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

questionable if there would be much vegetation available at this time. Besides,
some of the cubs appear to be born on the sea ice far from land, where there
would be no obtainable vegetation.
According to Stefansson, more than 99% of the polar bear’s food is seal (16).
Usually, the only thing he recognizes as food by the sense of smell is something that
smells like seal. When the meat is old, it develops the odor of decay that is
common to all meat. Apparently this odor overcomes the natural fresh odor in
all meats. Thus, the polar bear has been reported to leave untouched a cache of
fresh caribou, passing to leeward without even swerving from his course of sniff
at the meat more closely. This would indicate that he does not recognize caribou,
in its fresh state, as food; but he is known to recognize it if even slightly high.
However, there are in the books many cases where individual polar bears have
learned to try many different kinds of food, especially when they have had a chance
to forage in scrap heaps thrown out on the sea ice by ships wintering in the
Arctic. Such food may have numerous and pungent odors; and bears which have had
experience of these varied tastes and smells will go after whatever has any smell,
devouring it as avidly as if it were seal meat. The sophisticated polar bear,
who has once learned that seal is not the only food, will enter camps of travelers,
even when out in the pack ice, break open caches, eating greasy cloth, rope,
paper. Men have been killed and eaten by polar bears; and the carcasses of their
own kind have been consumed.
Bears marooned on an island or on a mainland shore, by a gale that takes all
the ice away, will get hungry. If the season is the least bit warm, a good deal
of decay takes place along the sea beaches; and a bear of keen appetite, not able
to reach his accustomed sealing grounds among the pack ice, will give the
impression of preference for a varied diet; for he eats mussels, starfish, and

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

various crustaceans, the eggs of sea fowl, or anything edible washed up by the
sea - even seaweed.
The polar bear hunts the seal in various ways. Sometimes he swims
stealthily along until a seal is encountered basking on the edge of the ice,
when he will rise suddenly between it and the water, cutting it off from escape,
and crush its skull with a blow. The bear also stalks basking seals on the ice,
creeping up slowly, silently, unobserved until it is too late. He may wait
patiently at the edge of a lead, to plunge from above upon a seal swimming by.
He also secures the very young of the ringed seal in their natal snow caves,
hidden from above by a roof of snow and visited by the female through the b f r eathing
hole contrived in the ice below. These caves the polar bear searches out by scent.
Apparently he prefers adult to young seals, for on occasion he may kill several
baby seals and leave their carcasses uneaten. He also prefers the skin and fat
of seals to their flesh, and may gorge on the blubber and skin alone. (It has
been said that the bear stores food under blocks of ice, but the report should be
taken with caution.)
From combining what Eskimos told him with evidence deciphered from blood,
footprints, and sleeping lairs, Stefansson worked out what may be a typical
feeding procedure. If the seal killed is small, the whole of it is consumed, with
bones and entrails. If a little larger, the bear eats all the skin and blubber,
with some of the lean. From a very large seal he will eat perhaps a third or
half the blubber, twenty to thirty pounds, and most of the skin but none of the
lean. Satiated, he then walks off fifty or a hundred yards and goes to sleep.
When he awakens he goes off without investigating his kill, usually traveling
upwind.
Seemingly the bear, on waking up, feels as if he would never be hungry again,

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

at any rate scorning the cold remnants of his warm meal. But there may not
be anything much left to scorn; for usually a bear is trailed by several foxes
that depend on him for food. They hop around him in excited circles while he
is eating, now and then coming so close they have to dodge when he makes passes
at them. When he has had his fill and goes off to sleep, the foxes come in for
their share. If it is summertime, the foxes have the same trouble keeping the
gulls away that the bear had keeping the foxes away.
Foxes often have difficulty following a bear, for if he comes to an open
lead he swims across and they may be unable to find a bridge anywhere near. It
was under such conditions, and in winter when there were not gulls, that Stefansson
occasionally found a dead seal from which nothing had been eaten except skin and
blubber. On other occasions he found seals at which foxes had been gnawing,
showing they were not present at the kill and arrived only when the remnants of
the bear’s feast had been hardened by the frost. At other times he found remnants
of frozen seals that had been devoured by wandering hungry bears that came along
hours or days late.
As Object of the Hunt
Man is bear’s only enemy. But being of little economic value as a source of
hides, furs, and food, and bear has never been hunted systematically on a large
scale. They are slain by travelers chiefly as c s ource of food.
The skin is utilized for clothing to some extent, but though strong, it is
heavy and not commensurately warm. Most of the skins exported are for rugs, or
merely as trophies. The lighter hides are used for semiwaterproof trousers by
some Eskimos; the heavier hides as bedding. Light skins may be used by Eskimos
for mittens, and skins of any weight are cut up into strips for dog harness. The

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

long hairs are esteemed for ornamental purposes by the women in some Eskimo
districts.
Particularly in the eastern Canadian Arctic and around Greenland, Eskimos
hunt the polar bear with dogs (11; 14). When the bear is sighted, the dogs are
let loose. Then, when they have brought him to bay, he is shot. In former times,
the Eskimos of Greenland and the Chukchis of Siberia killed bears with spears,
sometimes made by lashing hunting knives to walking sticks. Occasionally a
hibernating female is located in its snow cave with the aid of dogs, when she
is speared or shot.
Much of the information we have on polar bears in the wild state derives
from the reports of travelers and hunters. For instance, as to the age which
these animals naturally reach, we have only the reports of men who have killed
bears showing by their pelage and their worn teeth that they must be old. In
captivity the polar bear has attained the age of 33 years.
From reports of travelers, also, we get the many conflicting statements
regarding the ferocity of the bear. According to some who have encountered them,
these animals without natural enemies are, nevertheless, somewhat shy and timid.
They are also curious, and will approach a man fearlessly. They will come boldly
into occupied camps, knocking the dogs aside. From the accounts of Barents and
other polar explorers of the sixteenth the seventeenth centuries, the bear emerges
as a most ferocious and dangerous beast. But M’Clintock’s Greenlandic guide,
Petersen, is quoted by Nordenskiold as thinking the bear as little dangerous as
a sheep.
Sometimes a polar bear will stalk a man who is crawling on the ice, hunting
seals. Stefansson believes this is because the bear mistakes for a seal the man’s
recumbent figure. But the polar bear has been known to stalk an upright man, and

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

Stefansson has reported a narrow escape he had on one occasion (16). The books
contain stories of men who saved themselves from belligerent individuals by
lying down on the ice, when the bear would merely sniff curiously at them, doing
no harm. And whereas, according to most reports, the polar bear flees when shot
at, in some accounts, bears, when fired upon or disturbed at a meal, turned and
attacked their hunters. Perhaps the bear who approaches a men in harmless
curiosity is merely a bear without previous experience of his enemy. In the
same way, the bear that flees, or the bear that assaults, may be one with
experience which has taught him to recognize his enemy.
The curiosity and ingenuity of the bear are proverbial, as is his strength.
Certainly, it is difficult to make a cache which is secure against him. Bears
have been known to break into the scatter about caches of every kind, even when
they contained no food, although it may be surmised that the object of the search
was food. Stefansson has described the making of an ice cache which is more or
less polar-bear-proof (15; 16). It could be constructed by digging a pit into an
ice hummock, placing in it the things to be stored, filling the rest of the pit
with boulders of ice, tamping in snow between the chunks and pouring water on
the whole that has been secured from beneath the ice.
Edibility of the Meat
Various opinions are held as to palatability of the meat. Some white
men have found it good eating, preferring it to caribou; others have found it
rank, unpleasant, and even unwholesome. A few say they prefer [: ] to eat the
flesh raw or frozen; most prefer it cooked. Freuchen describes the flesh as pink,
sweet, and savory, but says it becomes unpalatable when too exclusively eaten . (2).
But Nansen and Johansen, who probably had most experience of all explorers in
living on polar bear meat, found they could eat it exclusively, day after day
for several months, without tiring of it. “We consumed large quantities,”

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

writes Nansen, “at every meal, and strange to say, we never grew tired of this
food, but always ate it with a ravenous appetite” (5). They usually ate it
“boiled in soups,” he tells us. The paws, heart, tongue and brains are con–
sidered delicacies.
Many arctic travelers have reported that eating the liver of the polar bear
may produce various unpleasant symptoms; drowsiness, sluggishness, irritability,
severe headache, vomiting, and peeling of the skin. It has been claimed that
older, presumably experienced, sledge dogs will refuse to eat fresh bear liver,
although young dogs will do so, but that frozen liver is eaten by young and old
dogs alike.
Rodahl has made a vitamin assay and reports that polar bear liver is very
high in vitamin A (13). Of three specimens tested, chemically and biologically,
he measured two as containing 18,000 International Units of vitamin A per gram,
and the third 13,000. The high concentration of vitamin A might be the cause of
the toxicity, leading to hypervitaminosis A. The bear feeds upon the seal, and
seal liver was found to vary in its vitamin A content according to the time of
the year; so the liver of the bear would perhaps vary similarly according to the
season, thus accounting for some of the conflicting reports as to its toxicity.
Or the eating of several livers at successive meals might produce a headache when
a single small meal produced no symptoms.
Recently it has been discovered that trichinosis is rather prevalent among
carnivorous arctic mammals, among them the polar bear. During World War II,
several Germans on a secret mission to the Franz Josef Islands were taken ill,
invalided to Norway (which was then in German hands), and found to be suffering
from trichinosis, readily traceable to bear meat. Since then trichinae have
been found in bear meat from various parts of the Arctic, and trichinal infection

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

has been determined from bearskins preserved as specimens in museums. Tests
have revealed that some men now living are afflicted with trichinosis derived
from bear or other arctic meat eaten years ago, the organism being now in an
encysted state. A number of epidemics in the Far North and many separate
deaths, either previously written down as mysterious or else falsely diagnosed,
are now traced to this cause. A common wrong diagnosis has been typhoid. It
is now believed, too, that much of the baffling dog sickness of the Arctic has
been trichinosis.
Trichinae are killed by freezing, though not as quickly as by boiling. In
the Arctic, most bear meat that is eaten has previously been frozen, which may
have lessened materially the incidence of human and dog trichinosis. (The U.S.
Department of Agriculture publishes tables showing how long meat needs to be
kept frozen at various temperatures to be free from trichinae, the more intense
the chilling the shorter the required period.)
Much has been written about the polar bear; some of it has now been discredited,
some needs to be checked, and what remains still shows a wide range of variation
in the habits of this animal.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Bobrinksoi, N. Opredelitel Melkopitaiushchikh S SSR (Mammals of the USSR),
Moskva, Sovetskaia Nauka, 1944.

2. Degerbøl, Magnus and Freuchen, Peter. Mammals . Copenhagen, Gyldendalske
Boghandel, Nordisk Forlag, 1935. Thule Expedition, 5th,
1921-24. Report vol.2, no.4-5, pp.102-19.

3. Karelin, D.B. “Vozdushnaia Ekspeditsia v vysokie Shiroty Arktiki v 1941 g.”
(Air Expedition to the High Latitudes of the Arctic in 1941),
Vsesoiuznoe Geogr. Obshch. Izvestia , vol.77, no.3, pp.164-69,
1945.

4. Miller, G.S. Catalogue of the Mammals of Western Europe in the Collection
of the British Museum . London, Trustees, 1912, pp.297-303.

5. Nansen, Fridtjof. Farthest North. Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration
of the Ship Fram 1893-96 . Westminster, Constable, 1897. 2 vols.

6. Nelson, E.W. Report upon Natural History Collections Made in Alaska Between
the Years 1877 and 1881 . Ed. by Henry W. Henshaw. Wash.,
G.P.O., 1887, pp.254-55. Arctic Series of Publications
issued in Connection with the Signal Service U.S. Army, no.3.

7. Nordenskiold, A.E. The Voyage of the Vega round Asia and Europe . London,
Macmillan, 1881, vol.1., pp.137-47.

8. Ognev, S.I. Zveri SSSR i Prilezhashchikh Stran . T. 3, [Khishohnye i Lasto–
nogie] (The Mammals of the U.S.S.R. and Adjacent Countries,
v V ol.3, Beasts of Prey and Pinnipedia.) Leningrad, M.L.
Glavpushnine N.K.V.D. Biomedgiz, 1935, pp.124-39.

9. Ouwelhand, C.W. “Über Geburt and jugendentwicklung c e ines Eisbaren,”
Zoologische Garten , Frankf o u rt, n.s., vol.2, pp.102-7, 1929.

10. Papanin, D. Life on an Ice Floe . N.Y., Messner, 1939.

11. Peary, R.E. The North Pole , N.Y., Stokes, 1910.

12. Pedersen, Alvin. Der Eisb a ȁ r (T h alar e c tos maritimus Phipps ). København, Bruun, 1945.

13. Rodahl, K., and Moore, T. “The vitamin A content and toxicity of bear and
seal liver,” Bio-chem.J. vol.37, pp.155-68, 1943.

14. Seton, E.T. Lives of Game Animals . Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1926. vol.2,
“The Polar Bear,” pp.195-228.

EA-Zoo. Rand: Polar Bear

15. Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. The Friendly Arctic . N.Y., Macmillan, 1921.

16. ----. Arctic Manual. N.Y., Macmillan, 194 4 5 .

17. Zalkin, V. “On the biology of the white bear of the Franz-Josef Archipelago,”
Moskovskoe Obshch.Ispytat.Prir.Otdel.Biol. Bull . n.s., vol.45,
pp.355-63, 1936.

A. L. Rand

Fur Bearers of North America

EA-Zoology
(Leonard Butler)

FUR BEARERS OF NORTH AMERICA

CONTENTS
Page
Arctic Fox 2
Muskrat 8
Red Fox 11
Wolverine 13
Beaver 14