By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News
The heat is on for the world’s caribou with a new study warning the creatures could lose as much as 60 per cent of their range within 60 years.
Caribou, often called reindeer, are among the most numerous and mysterious animals in Canada, but many herds are in decline.
And while it might be fun to think they can fly with Santa, the report says there will be no escaping the rising temperatures transforming their habitat.
“The changes will be worse in North America than in Europe,” said Steeve Cote, a caribou expert at Laval University. He led the international study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
It reveals a distinct genetic lineage of caribou found only in Canada. And it says the lineage “is likely to become increasingly fragmented, possibly disappearing from most of its present range.”
The scientists estimate 89 per cent of the “suitable area” for these caribou, which are found in Labrador, Quebec and Ontario and are a dietary mainstay for many First Nations people, could be lost within 60 years. That compares a 60 per cent loss in range predicted for the lineage that makes up the rest of the world’s caribou.