CAUSES OF REINDEER (RANGIFER TARANDUS) AND MOOSE (ALCES ALCES) MORTALITY IN THE LAPLAND RESERVE AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
The Lapland Biosphere Nature Reserve located above the Arctic Circle stretches 2,780 km2 of land on Russia's Kola Peninsula. Between the years 1930-1996, 206 moose (“elk” in Europe and Asia) (Alces alces) and 646 wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) deaths were recorded. Bears (Ursus arctos) were responsible for most of the moose and reindeer mortality: 68% and 30% of deaths, respectively. By comparison, wolves (Canis lupus) caused 8% of moose and 17% of reindeer deaths and wolverines (Gulo gulo) caused 1% of moose and 10% of reindeer deaths. In this area surrounding the Reserve, illegal hunting accounted for 6% of moose mortality and 18% of reindeer mortality, while road kills were responsible for 3% of all moose deaths and 1% of all reindeer deaths. In cases where hunters wounded reindeer outside of the Reserve their subsequent death inside the Reserve was recorded. Bears were of greatest danger to moose and reindeer in Laplandia; wolves tended to prey primarily on reindeer. Wolverine most frequently targeted weak or sick animals, though they have been known to occasionally attack adult moose. The mortality rate of adult males (both moose and reindeer) is consistently higher than the rate for females and calves. One explanation for this may be that calf remains are more difficult to discover and decay more rapidly than those of adults. Furthermore, as the remains of adult animals are more easily discovered than the remains of their young, it is possible that several deaths of young animals remain undiscovered. We were not able to discern the cause of 30% of moose deaths and 60% of reindeer deaths.
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