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Climate change and castration

Lead Sentence of the Week honors go to Alister Doyle of Reuters, whose news report begins:

Indigenous Sami peoples in the Arctic may have found a way to help their reindeer herds cope with climate change: more castration.

(Thanks to investigator John Karp for bringing this to our attention.) Further detail appears in a pair of academic reports:

1] “Adapting to Climate Change in Reindeer Herding: The Nation- State as Problem and Solution,” Erik S. Reinert (Saami University College, Kautokeino, Norway), Iulie Aslaksen (Statistics Norway), Inger Marie G. Eira, Svein Mathiesen (both Saami University College), Hugo Reinert, (University of Cambridge) & Ellen Inga Turi (University of Oslo), Working Papers in Technology Governance and Economic Dynamics no. 16, Norway Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, January 2008. The report quotes a herder who says:

“With us there exists such a method of castrating with one’s teeth too. Some of our reindeer herders can still do this with their teeth. Without castrations it is not possible to build up a controllable reindeer herd.”

2] “The challenges of Arctic reindeer herding: The interface between reindeer herders’ traditional knowledge and modern understanding of the ecology, economy, sociology and management of Sámi reindeer herding,” Inger Marie G. Eira, Ole Henrik Magga, Mathis P.Bongo, Mikkel Nils Sara, Svein D. Mathiesen and Anders Oskal, paper presented at the IASC Conference 2008:

“In 1732, Carl Linnè [known today as Linnaeus], described castration of reindeer: One person keep the 2.5 years old male in the antlers 14 day before Michaels mess, while the herder use his teeth to bite across the reindeer balls, and subsequently use his finger to carefully massage the epidemic, avoiding to harm the skin.”

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