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Arctic reindeer decline by over 50 per cent
Five herds in the Alaska-Canada region have declined by more than 90 per cent and show no sign of recovery.
Climate change identified as an overarching factor

Caribou and wild reindeer herds across the Arctic tundra have declined by more than 50 per cent in the past 20 years, a new report shows.

The latest Arctic Report Card, which has been published annually since 2006, indicates that Arctic air temperatures for the past five years have exceeded all records since 1900.

Out of 22 herds monitored, only two are at historic peak numbers and have not declined. Overall, migratory herds in circa-Arctic tundra regions have fallen by 56 per cent, from 4.7 million to 2.1 million in the past two decades.

Five herds in the Alaska-Canada region have declined by more than 90 per cent and show no sign of recovery. In Russia, declines are particularly apparent in the forest, mountain and island reindeer. Out of 19 herds assessed, 18 are rare, decreasing or threatened.

Researchers say the reasons for the declines are complex, and relate to a combination of forage availability, parasites, predation, hunting and climate change, which has been identified as an overarching factor.

Other emerging issues highlighted by the report include an expansion of harmful toxic algal blooms in the Arctic Ocean and an increase in micro plastic contamination, which is threatening marine life and seabirds.

Surface air temperatures in the Arctic continued to warm at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. And in 2018, Arctic sea ice remained younger, thinner and covered less area than in the past.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”