Reindeer Mass Death on Yamal Peninsula Linked to Climate Change, Scientists Believe

In the Yamal Peninsula in the Russian Arctic, thousands of domestic and wild animals have died because they could not get to forage locked under ice, according to the Siberian Times.

The first reports about winter rains followed by lenghty spells of extremely cold weather appeared in December 2020. Alarmed herders said the unusual weather caused formation of thick - up to three centimetres - ice cover over lichen. 

Some of the Yamal peninsula’s domestic animals left traditional winter pastures and followed wild reindeer hoping to survive. By spring the number of animals that could have died from starvation was estimated in thousands. Overall there are around 65,000 reindeer in this northern part of the peninsula’s tundra. 

The ecologists believe that changing climate may have caused the deadly mix of weather events like thin snow cover, followed by winter rains and then days of severe frosts.