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More than 3,500 reindeer starved to death in Russian region

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2001

MOSCOW (AP) -- It has been a difficult winter for people living in portions of Russia's Far East.

More than 3,500 reindeer have starved to death this winter in the Chukotka region, across the Bering Strait from Alaska, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Tuesday.

The reindeer, from herds raised on 70 farms, are a mainstay for the local population, providing meat, fur and transport.

Many of the animals have been unable to break through ice that has formed over the lichens that provide their primary food source, said Viktor Beltsov, a ministry spokesman.

The ice has affected some 162 square miles of pastures, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Beltsov said herders were trying to drive some of the reindeer to regions where pastures were free of ice.

Chukotka, one of Russia's most remote regions, is located about 4,700 miles northeast of Moscow.



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