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A smaller Rudolph? Scientists say reindeer are shrinking

A Sami woman observes the movement of reindeer during selection and calf labeling on Oct. 27, 2016 near the village of Dikanaess, in northern Sweden.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

STOCKHOLM -- Reindeer living on the Arctic island of Svalbard are getting smaller — and scientists say climate change may be the cause. 

Scientists from Britain and Norway have found that adult Svalbard reindeer born in 2010 weigh 12 percent less on average than those born in 1994.

Ecologist Steve Albon of Scotland’s James Hutton Institute says rising temperatures in the Arctic mean Svalbard is getting more rain, creating a hard ice sheet the island’s reindeer can’t easily break through to reach food.

Reindeer populations are also increasing due to warmer summers, stoking competition.

Albon says researchers think there is a correlation between rising temperatures and reindeer weight. He says more research is needed to confirm the link.

Their findings were presented Monday at a meeting of the British Ecological Society.