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Fish & Game Posts Fun Facts about Santa’s Reindeer

MAP: Alaska Department of Fish & Game

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has updated its webpage with information about Santa's reindeer.  Visitors to the site can find a full species profile of this unusual subspecies.

Santa's reindeer (Rangifer tarandus saintnicolas magicalus) look very similar to common reindeer or caribou, but have many characteristics—including the ability to fly—that distinguish them from the seven other common subspecies. In Europe, caribou are called reindeer, but in Alaska and Canada only the semi-domesticated form is called reindeer. All caribou and reindeer throughout the world are considered to be the same species, and, including Santa's reindeer, there are eight subspecies.  Alaska has mostly the barren-ground subspecies and one small herd of woodland caribou.

Santa’s reindeer are cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Claus, as well as a few specially trained elves, at the North Pole.  Even though there are very few Santa’s reindeer, they are not listed as a threatened or endangered species because their life expectancy is infinite.

Only a few facts are known about Santa's reindeer as they are more often heard than seen. Every Christmas Eve, sharp-eared children may detect the faint sound of harness bells and hoofbeats on rooftops.  Department researchers encourage everyone to record observations and document sightings so that we can learn more about this rare subspecies.   

More information about Santa’s reindeer is available on the Alaska Department of Fish & Game website at www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=santasreindeer.main.

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