Dead reindeer baffles conservationists

The deceased mammal was found washed up on Coquet Island.

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Wildlife conservationists working on Coquet Island in Northumberland were surprised to find a dead reindeer on the tiny island.

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Reindeer are not inhabitants of the island, and the only free-ranging reindeer in the UK are an introduced herd in the Cairngorms.

“It was an extraordinary thing to see!” says Paul Morrison, who spotted the reindeer during a survey of the island. “I’ve no idea where it came from, perhaps from a farm along the coast. Coquet’s better known for its seabirds, such as the UK’s only roseate tern colony.”

Reindeer, known as caribou in North America, are the northernmost species of deer and are found in the tundra and taiga zones of the Northern Hemisphere.

Their diet consists mainly of a lichen called reindeer moss (Cladonia rangiferina), as well as herbs, grasses and mushrooms during summer.

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Reindeer are the only deer species in which the females also grow antlers