Reindeer have been hunted for perhaps 30,000 years. They have been domesticated for many centuries in Lapland, N Siberia, and Mongolia, where they may be used for meat, milk, clothing, and transportation. They are used both to pull sleds and to carry burdens and riders. The Laplanders until recently were completely dependent upon the reindeer for their livelihood and followed the herds on their annual migrations.
Reindeer living in a wild state in Eurasia are probably descended in part from domesticated strains. The wild reindeer of North America, called caribou , are larger than, but otherwise quite similar to, the Eurasian species. They have never been domesticated. Domesticated reindeer were introduced into Alaska from Siberia in the 1890s and became essential to the economy of the Alaskan Eskimo. Herds were established in Canada in the 1930s.
Reindeer are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Cervidae.
See P. S. Zhigunov, ed., Reindeer Husbandry (tr. 1968) D. F. Olson, Alaska Reindeer Herdsmen (1969).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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