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Flickr user Rocky via Wikimedia Commons // CC-BY-2.0
Flickr user Rocky via Wikimedia Commons // CC-BY-2.0

Norwegian Eagles Are Taking Out Full-Grown Reindeer

Flickr user Rocky via Wikimedia Commons // CC-BY-2.0
Flickr user Rocky via Wikimedia Commons // CC-BY-2.0

Here’s a reindeer story you may not want to tell the kids: Golden eagles have been spotted attacking full-grown reindeer in Norway.

The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is a pretty tough bird. With a wingspan up to 7.5 feet and a diving speed of more than 150 miles per hour, A. chrysaetos is generally pretty good at getting what it wants. That usually means rabbits, hares, birds, and squirrels. But when the pickings are slim, golden eagles will get a little more ambitious, going after sheep, saiga antelope, and even wolves. Researchers even saw one brazen bird carrying off a bear cub.

So the idea that these birds are preying on reindeer is not quite as ridiculous as it sounds. It was a fact well known by the reindeer-herding Sami people of Finland, who had complained of the attacks for years. But scientists, being scientists, were still having a hard time believing it in the absence of evidence.

Then in 2009, researcher Harri Norberg of the Finnish Wildlife Agency took a closer look at the carcasses of reindeer calves. The forensic evidence showed that the majority of them had indeed fallen prey to golden eagles. Not too long after, a BBC film crew captured a handful of attacks on camera. The reality was not pretty.

An attacking eagle drops out of the sky above its prey, and then drives its talons into the reindeer’s body, puncturing large blood vessels.

"They are not killing anything instantly, so they have to ride like a rodeo cowboy on the back of the calf," film producer Ted Oakes told the BBC. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the reindeer to bleed out.

Norberg and Oakes suspected that the reindeer calves were not the eagles’ only victims, but, once again, they had no proof. 

Six years later, a Norwegian naturalist has seen it for himself. Olav Strand of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research told New Scientist that he has seen golden eagles kill adult reindeer weighing more than 130 pounds.

Strand believes the attacks are an indirect consequence of human activity. Harsher winters—a result of climate change—are making small prey like hares harder to come by. At the same time, human settlements are shrinking available reindeer territory, driving the animals into a smaller area, where they can be more easily picked off. "It’s possible to expect some kind of interaction between the level of fragmentation and the coming climate change," he told New Scientist. "Through history, the only defense reindeers have had to climate and predators has been to move."

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Martin Wittfooth
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Art
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
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Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
How a Pregnant Rhino Named Victoria Could Save an Entire Subspecies
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

The last male northern white rhino died at a conservancy in Kenya earlier this year, prompting fears that the subspecies was finally done for after decades of heavy poaching. Scientists say there's still hope, though, and they're banking on a pregnant rhino named Victoria at the San Diego Zoo, according to the Associated Press.

Victoria is actually a southern white rhino, but the two subspecies are related. Only two northern white rhinos survive, but neither of the females in Kenya are able to reproduce. Victoria was successfully impregnated through artificial insemination, and if she successfully carries her calf to term in 16 to 18 months, scientists say she might be able to serve as a surrogate mother and propagate the northern white rhino species.

But how would that work if no male northern rhinos survive? As the AP explains, scientists are working to recreate northern white rhino embryos using genetic technology. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the frozen cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos, which can be transformed into stem cells—and ultimately, sperm and eggs. The sperm of the last northern white male rhino, Sudan, was also saved before he died.

Scientists have been monitoring six female southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo to see if any emerge as likely candidates for surrogacy. However, it's not easy to artificially inseminate a rhino, and there have been few successful births in the past. There's still a fighting chance, though, and scientists ultimately hope they'll be able to build up a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos over the next few decades.

[h/t Time Magazine]

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