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Observations were made on 45 individually recognized adult female reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) as to exact date of parturition and antler shedding. Fifty percent of the cows had shed their antlers within 5 days postpartum. The maximum number of sheddings per day occurred on the sixth day after parturition. Postpartum retention of antlers varied from 1 to 11 days. No difference was found between old and young cows. The significance of antlers in female reindeer during calving season is discussed. It is supposed that possession of antlers gives the cow high social status which, combined with a high aggressive level, enables her to drive away other reindeer from the calving area, the calf thus being prevented from establishing contact with strange reindeer. It is supposed that the establishment of social mother-calf bonds would be impeded if strange reindeer were allowed to interfere.
The Journal of Wildlife Management © 1971 Wiley