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Sad but true

Study finds reindeer populations are rapidly decreasing

Rudolph may have less and less companions to join him in playing "reindeer games."

A new study in the Journal for Nature Conservation found that reindeer populations are falling fast. The study focused on China, where reindeer populations have declined 28 percent since the 1970s. China's semi-domesticated reindeer migrated with the Ewenki people from Siberia 2,000 years ago, but a variety of factors, including poaching, climate change, and natural predators are forcing the animal's demise.

There are two reindeer subspecies, tundra reindeer and woodland reindeer, and they typically live in the northern Arctic, Discovery News explains. But reindeer populations in northern Europe, Asia, and North America have been declining for years. The decline spans across various reindeer types, including caribou.

The researchers hope the study will inspire the IUCN Red List to update the reindeer's conservation status, which is currently of "least concern."