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    Part I: Terrestrial Zoology

    Encyclopedia Arctica 3: Zoology (Excluding Birds)

    Part 1: Terrestrial Zoology


    Terrestrial Mammals

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    (EA-Zoo. A. L. Rand)




    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

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            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,

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    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

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    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


            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


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            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


            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.

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            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.

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            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

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    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
    Wood Buffalo Park, Canada Taiga 44

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    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.

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            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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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


            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.

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            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

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    (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.

    016      |      Vol_III-0030                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals



            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.

    017      |      Vol_III-0031                                                                                                                  
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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.

    018      |      Vol_III-0032                                                                                                                  
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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

    019      |      Vol_III-0033                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

    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

    020      |      Vol_III-0034                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

    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

    021      |      Vol_III-0035                                                                                                                  
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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.



            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

    022      |      Vol_III-0036                                                                                                                  
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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

    023      |      Vol_III-0037                                                                                                                  
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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

    024      |      Vol_III-0038                                                                                                                  
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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.



            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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    EA. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

    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


            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.

    027      |      Vol_III-0041                                                                                                                  
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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.



            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


            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.

    031      |      Vol_III-0045                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

            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

    032      |      Vol_III-0046                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

    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.

    033      |      Vol_III-0047                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals

            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

    034      |      Vol_III-0048                                                                                                                  
    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


            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

    035      |      Vol_III-0049                                                                                                                  
    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


            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.



            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,

    037      |      Vol_III-0050                                                                                                                  
    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.

    038      |      Vol_III-0051                                                                                                                  
    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


            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.

    039      |      Vol_III-0052                                                                                                                  
    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,

    040      |      Vol_III-0053                                                                                                                  
    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.

    041      |      Vol_III-0054                                                                                                                  
    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.

    042      |      Vol_III-0055                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Rand: Terrestrial Mammals


    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,


    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,



    A. L. Rand


    Unpaginated      |      Vol_III-0056                                                                                                                  

    (Karl P. Schmidt)




            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.

    001      |      Vol_III-0057                                                                                                                  

    (Karl P. Schmidt)



            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.

    002      |      Vol_III-0058                                                                                                                  
    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.



            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.

    003      |      Vol_III-0059                                                                                                                  
    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.

    004      |      Vol_III-0060                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Schmidt: Amphibians


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


    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


    001      |      Vol_III-0061                                                                                                                  

    (Karl P. Schmidt)


            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.



            Lacerta agilis agilis , the sand or fence lizard, inhabits central Europe

    northward beyond 60° N. in Sweden, Finland, and western Soviet Russia.

    002      |      Vol_III-0062                                                                                                                  
    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.



            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.

    003      |      Vol_III-0063                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Schmidt: Reptiles


    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

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_III-0064                                                                                                                  
    (EA-Zoo. A. W. F. Banfield)




    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

    001      |      Vol_III-0065                                                                                                                  

    (A. W. F. Banfield)



            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–

    ). 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.

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    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

    003      |      Vol_III-0067                                                                                                                  
    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–


            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

    004      |      Vol_III-0068                                                                                                                  
    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


            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

    005      |      Vol_III-0069                                                                                                                  
    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,

    006      |      Vol_III-0070                                                                                                                  
    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

    007      |      Vol_III-0071                                                                                                                  
    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

    008      |      Vol_III-0072                                                                                                                  
    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


            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

    009      |      Vol_III-0073                                                                                                                  
    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.

    010      |      Vol_III-0074                                                                                                                  
    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

    011      |      Vol_III-0075                                                                                                                  
    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–

    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–

    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.

    012      |      Vol_III-0076                                                                                                                  
    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–

    , 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

    013      |      Vol_III-0077                                                                                                                  
    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

    014      |      Vol_III-0078                                                                                                                  
    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.

    015      |      Vol_III-0079                                                                                                                  
    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.

    016      |      Vol_III-0080                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Banfield: Caribou


    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.

    017      |      Vol_III-0081                                                                                                                  
    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

    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

    001      |      Vol_III-0082                                                                                                                  

    (Olaus J. Murie)


            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

    002      |      Vol_III-0083                                                                                                                  
    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

    003      |      Vol_III-0084                                                                                                                  
    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


            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,

    004      |      Vol_III-0085                                                                                                                  
    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.)

    005      |      Vol_III-0086                                                                                                                  
    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

    006      |      Vol_III-0087                                                                                                                  
    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

    007      |      Vol_III-0088                                                                                                                  
    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

    008      |      Vol_III-0089                                                                                                                  
    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.

    009      |      Vol_III-0090                                                                                                                  
    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


            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

    010      |      Vol_III-0091                                                                                                                  
    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

    011      |      Vol_III-0092                                                                                                                  
    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

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    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.

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    EA-Zoo. Murie: Economic Zoology of Caribou


    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

    001      |      Vol_III-0095                                                                                                                  

    (Richard Finnie)


            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,

    002      |      Vol_III-0096                                                                                                                  
    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

    003      |      Vol_III-0097                                                                                                                  
    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.

    004      |      Vol_III-0098                                                                                                                  
    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

    005      |      Vol_III-0099                                                                                                                  
    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

    006      |      Vol_III-0100                                                                                                                  
    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

    007      |      Vol_III-0101                                                                                                                  
    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.

    008      |      Vol_III-0102                                                                                                                  
    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.

    009      |      Vol_III-0103                                                                                                                  
    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

    010      |      Vol_III-0104                                                                                                                  
    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

    011      |      Vol_III-0105                                                                                                                  
    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

    012      |      Vol_III-0106                                                                                                                  
    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


            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

    013      |      Vol_III-0107                                                                                                                  
    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.

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_III-0108                                                                                                                  

    (V. J. Tereshtenko)




    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

    001      |      Vol_III-0109                                                                                                                  

    (V. J. Tereshtenko)




    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

    002      |      Vol_III-0110                                                                                                                  
    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

    , the Russian severnyi olen . Within this group the following subgroups

    003      |      Vol_III-0111                                                                                                                  
    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

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    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

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    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

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    (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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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)

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    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

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    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.

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            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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

    018      |      Vol_III-0126                                                                                                                  
    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


    019      |      Vol_III-0127                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

    Table I. Reindeer Stocks of the U.S.S.R. a
    Year In % of

    1933 herd

    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

    a Percentages are from Zhigunov ( [ ?] ); absolute figures from Eikhfeld

    and Chmora (8).

            Table II gives a picture of the prewar distribution of reindeer herds

    in the Asiatic portion of the Far North:

    020      |      Vol_III-0128                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

    Table II. Reindeer in the Asiatic Far North (13).

    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.

    021      |      Vol_III-0129                                                                                                                  
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            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


            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.

    022      |      Vol_III-0130                                                                                                                  
    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


            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


            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.

    023      |      Vol_III-0131                                                                                                                  
    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

    024      |      Vol_III-0132                                                                                                                  
    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

    025      |      Vol_III-0133                                                                                                                  
    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


            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.

    026      |      Vol_III-0134                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.

    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


            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


            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

    027      |      Vol_III-0135                                                                                                                  
    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

    028      |      Vol_III-0136                                                                                                                  
    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

    029      |      Vol_III-0137                                                                                                                  
    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

    030      |      Vol_III-0138                                                                                                                  
    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,

    031      |      Vol_III-0139                                                                                                                  
    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

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    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

    033      |      Vol_III-0141                                                                                                                  
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    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.

    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

    034      |      Vol_III-0142                                                                                                                  
    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


    Table IV. Norms for Pack-Load Carrying (26).
    Type of road Load on one rein–

    deer, in kg.

    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

    035      |      Vol_III-0143                                                                                                                  
    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


    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


            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.”

    036      |      Vol_III-0144                                                                                                                  
    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.

    037      |      Vol_III-0145                                                                                                                  
    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:

    038      |      Vol_III-0146                                                                                                                  
    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

    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

    039      |      Vol_III-0147                                                                                                                  
    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.

    040      |      Vol_III-0148                                                                                                                  
    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.

    041      |      Vol_III-0149                                                                                                                  
    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

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_III-0150                                                                                                                  

            p. 42 of Tereshtenko

    Reindeer Breeding

            Chese and milk [neg?]-

    5th line from bottom

    ch. 4 [ butter ?] from same?

    042      |      Vol_III-0151                                                                                                                  
    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

    043      |      Vol_III-0152                                                                                                                  
    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.

    044      |      Vol_III-0153                                                                                                                  
    EA-Zoo. Tereshtenko: Reindeer Breeding in the U.S.S.R.


    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.

    045      |      Vol_III-0154                                                                                                                  
    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.

    046      |      Vol_III-0155                                                                                                                  
    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

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_III-0156                                                                                                                  

    (A. L. Rand and Vilhjalmur Stefansson)




    Description 2
    Range 4
    Habits 5
    Utilization 8
    Bibliography 10

    001      |      Vol_III-0157                                                                                                                  

    (A. L. Rand and Vilhjalmur Stefansson)



            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

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    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




            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,

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    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


            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

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    EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos

    subspecies O. moschatus niphoecus . They occur in Greenland and the

    Canadian Arctic Islands.



            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

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    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




            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

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    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

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    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.

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            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.



            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.

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    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.

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    EA-Zoo. Rand and Stefansson: Biology of Ovibos


    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

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_III-0167                                                                                                                  

    (A. L. Rand)




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

    001      |      Vol_III-0168                                                                                                                  

    (A. L. Rand)



            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,<