Russia's police force may be getting reindeer to help them combat crime in the northern part of the country.
The Arctic region is remote and some areas are accessible only on the back of a reindeer. The area is also home to many of Siberia's indigenous people, who are savvy at using reindeer to escape crime scenes, according to the Izvestia newspaper.
Of the 163 crimes reported in the Yamalsky municipality in western Siberia during the first nine months of the year, indigenous minorities committed 127 of them.
Most of the crimes involved drunken fights, robberies and "acts of hooliganism," according to the newspaper.
Russian police typically ride snowmobiles when pursuing criminals in the tundra; however, snowmobiles can break down or run out of gas. Reindeer don't have this problem.
"Of course we have snowmobiles in service, but one should understand that a machine is a machine," Irina Pimkina from the region’s Interior told the paper.
Russian police say reindeer will help them fight crime in this remote area, and they've been asking for the animals since 2012.
But why reindeer?
Reindeer hooves are unique because they adapt to the season. In the summer, when the ground is soft, the bottoms of their hooves become sponge-like and provide traction. In winter, the pads of their hooves tighten to expose the hoof’s rim, which cuts into ice and snow to keep the animal from slipping.
Reindeer can also see ultraviolet light, which comes in handy during Arctic winters when there's little sunlight for months. The majority of light that reaches the ground is ultraviolet, and snow can reflect up to 90 percent of UV light.
Most mammals, including humans, are unable to see such light.
A reindeer-riding police force might sound strange to those living outside the tundra, but Russia's armed forces often use animals in the course of their work.
The Russian navy uses dolphins to locate underwater mines, and the Russian Defense Ministry uses mules and donkeys during patrols in the country's mountains.
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