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New Rudolphs for Christmas - all 2,349 reindeer killed in anthrax outbreak are replaced

By The Siberian Times reporter
23 December 2016

Remote herders from 45 families get new animals to rebuild herds decimated by 'zombie' anthrax infection.

All the new 'Christmas deer' are from Yamal, and unaffected by the infection. Picture: Press Service of Yamalo-Nenetsk Governor's Office

A $600,000 programme has seen the replacement of all the infected reindeer killed by the reawakening of decades-old deadly anthrax in thawing permafrost.

Three separate outbreaks of anthrax this summer in the Yamalo-Nenets region killed one boy, almost 2,400 reindeer, and several dogs. All the new 'Christmas deer' are from Yamal, and unaffected by the infection.

Reindeer


Herd


Chums


Reindeer

A $600,000 programme has seen the replacement of all the infected reindeer killed by the reawakening of decades-old deadly anthrax in thawing permafrost. Picture: Press Service of Yamalo-Nenetsk Governor's Office

A separate programme to cull up to a quarter of a million reindeer by the end of this year was dramatically reduced. Scientists argue a cull is needed because the Yamal peninsula can no longer sustain so many reindeer.

But this season's slaughter campaign will aim to produce 3,000 tons of venison, some 600 tons more than last year, amounting to perhaps 60,000 deer.

The herder families had to leave their possessions when the disease breakout occurred. Through the foundation 'Cooperation of Yamal', people donated 65 million roubles ($1.06 million) help to help the hard-hit herders. 

Burning corpses


Works on disinfection


Works on disinfection

In the summer, Russian bio- and chemical- warfare troops were deployed to destroy infected reindeer carcasses after what turned out to be three separate outbreaks of anthrax poisoning. Pictures: Press Service of Yamalo-Nenetsk Governor's Office, EMERCOM

Funds were raised for construction materials, clothes, shoes for children and adults, personal hygiene items, medicines, and snow mobiles. Regional funds provided 90 million roubles ($1.47 million) for new tents, known as chums.

In the summer, Russian bio- and chemical- warfare troops were deployed to destroy infected reindeer carcasses after what turned out to be three separate outbreaks of anthrax poisoning. Soil had been contaminated in the early 20th century, but until this summer's thaw it was frozen in the permafrost. 

Once the zombie disease had come back to life, it was spread distances of up to 12 miles from the epicentre by bloodsucking flies and mosquitoes.

'The causative agent of anthrax fell into the soil with the secretions of sick (livestock) and the corpses of dead animals,' stated a report from  the All-Russian Research Institute of Veterinary Virology and Microbiology.

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