Svalbard – an archipelago halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole – was discovered in . This discovery proved devastating for the group of islands' wildlife as Svalbard reindeer were hunted extensively and were extirpated from much of the archipelago.
In , the Svalbard reindeer was declared a protected species. Over the course of four summers, Norwegian researchers surveyed this remote archipelago to determine the effects of nearly a century of protection.
Researchers also collected and radiocarbon-dated ancient reindeer bones from all over the archipelago. Using the age of the bones and the location in which they had been found, researchers were able to estimate the area occupied by reindeer prior to the arrival of humans on Svalbard. Today, Svalbard reindeer have re-colonized all of their historical territory.
While this is good news for this subpopulation of reindeer, researchers point out that in many other areas of the world, reindeer have not been as lucky. have been reported in several Canadian provinces (likely related to commercial forestry) and continues to be a major problem in Russia.