How to help Rudolph this Christmas...
HERE’S a sad Christmas story – the number of reindeer in the world has halved over the past couple of decades, from more than four million to just over two million.
The iconic leader of Santa’s sleigh is suffering from the effects of over-hunting and climate change.
In lands around the Arctic Circle changes in temperature have meant less snow and more ice, which stops reindeer – or caribou – reaching its veggie diet. It means these beautiful beasts must travel miles and miles to eat.
One interesting fact I read in an article by Simon Barnes in a national newspaper, is that the reindeer’s nose is specially adapted so it can take in freezing air and make it warm. It means that most reindeer have red noses.
While I was worrying about numbers of reindeer and how to find Rudolph if they all have red noses, I thought back to a worrying tale I told you about a couple of months ago.
While out walking I had seen a couple of lurchers chasing a local roe deer family through the woods. It was a horrible experience for the deer and it wasn’t nice to witness. The deer escaped because those badlytrained dogs came panting back minutes later, but it should not have happened.
Anyway, for weeks and weeks there was no sign of the deer family - buck, doe and two fawns - which upset and annoyed a lot of local nature lovers.
Then, last week, I was walking my well-behaved dog along a farm track and there in front of me was mum and a couple of, now older, offspring. They looked back at me and then slowly walked into the woods.
I got a good view of the family and then just saw their white rumps waggling off into the dark wood.
It’s amazing to think that this could have been the same family that delighted us all in summer, now back to their old feeding ground despite their bad experience. Or maybe the bigger youthful deer was now keen to show any dogs that it could show them a clean pair of heels.
They certainly weren’t fazed by me and Alfie wandering slowly past, just enjoying the fact that beautiful creatures share the countryside with us.
Britain is not short of roe deer and our village has certainly welcomed many fawns in the past decade. A lack of predators is helping to lift numbers and there are some culls in other parts of the country.
Obviously problems need to be solved when deer become a pest but I genuinely believe that many people do get a real thrill at seeing these beautiful animals in the wild.
So, there are two things to think of this Christmas. Let’s all work towards making the world a better place for our wild animals and demand more protection and stronger laws on pollution in a strong Environment Act. Get in touch with your MP and demand that the UK leads the way to reverse climate change.
And secondly get outside this Christmas and meet some of your own local wildlife. You never know, you may spot a deer or two.
To become a member of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside go to www.lancswt.org. uk or call 01772 324129. For Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk.
●● Roe deer in winter