Over 200 reindeer had been found dead on Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard earlier this month, according to a report by NRK.
Researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute said climate change and lack of food resulted to the animals’ death from hunger.
“It is scary to find so many dead animals. This is a terrifying example of how climate change affects nature. It is just sad,” said researcher Ashild Onvik Pedersen.
She added that the heavy rainfall in December made it difficult for the animals to find their own food. Though most of the reindeer found dead were untouched by humans, Pedersen claimed their deaths were all examples of how climate has a major impact on wildlife.
“The reindeer graze all over Svalbard, and in the winter they dig up food from the tundra. They can dig through snow, but not ice,” Pedersen told NRK.
Torkild Tveraa, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, explained deer have an important role in Arctic ecosystems in Europe, Asia and North America.
“Reindeer is the largest herbivore in Arctic regions. If it disappears and thus does not eat, tramples and fertilizers around, the landscape will look very different,” he told NRK in an interview.