Scholastic News Edition 4
Scholastic News Edition 4 provides exciting science and social studies features and helps kids build their geography skills.
Reindeer, also called caribou, are the only type of deer in which both males and females have antlers. (Eva Mårtensson / Getty Images)

Reindeer at Risk

Why are reindeer herds shrinking?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer saves the day in the popular holiday song. But now it’s reindeer that need saving. Over the past 30 years, their numbers in many areas have dropped by more than half. Many scientists say that habitat loss and rising temperatures are to blame.

Reindeer roam the icy tundra and snowy forests of the Arctic region. But their habitats are being taken over by people. Logging, mining, and the building of roads have driven many herds out of areas in the U.S., Canada, and Russia.

To make matters worse, the Arctic is slowly heating up. The region now often gets freezing rain instead of snow. That makes it harder for reindeer to get their food. Their winter diet is lichen (LYE-ken), a tiny plantlike form of life . It grows on rocks and in soil. Freezing rain covers lichen with ice that is too thick for reindeer to dig through. If they can’t reach their food, they can starve.

That’s bad news for native people in the region too. They rely on reindeer for food, clothing, and transportation.

Reindeer also play a key role in the Arctic food chain. Fewer reindeer can mean less food for predators, such as wolves.


Government leaders in the U.S. recently took action to help reindeer. They approved a plan to protect parts of Alaska where the animals live.

“Reindeer are a symbol of the North ,” says wildlife expert Justina Ray . “If we take care of them, we’ll be taking care of other Arctic animals too.”

This article appeared in the December 3, 2012 issue of Scholastic News Edition 4. For more from Scholastic News, click here.


  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Tundra (Hemisphere-Shaped Manipulative): Animal Habitats

    Tundra (Hemisphere-Shaped Manipulative): Animal Habitats

    Locate the tundra and the plants and animals that live there on this hemisphere-shaped manipulative!

    A first look at habitats around the world that meets the life science curriculum standards, and includes the following:

    • background information
    • easy-to-follow instructions for assembly
    • discussion questions for after reading
    • activities to extend learning
    • related books and web sites
    • an easy-to-print, color, and assemble hemisphere-shaped manipulative template

    ePage | Grades 2-3
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Tundra (Hemisphere-Shaped Manipulative): Animal Habitats
    Grades 2-3 $0.99
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Smart Words Science Reader: Life in the Tundra

    Smart Words Science Reader: Life in the Tundra

    by Christine A. Caputo

    Full of information and photographs, this series includes special features like highlighted vocabulary and self-quizzes that reinforce reading skills with science.

    $3.00 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book | Grades 2-4
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Smart Words Science Reader: Life in the Tundra
    Grades 2-4 $3.00
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy




Here's something interesting from