In addition to cutting down on overgrazing, the Russian government believes the cull would decrease the potential for anthrax to spread if it is released from the permafrost again.
"Reindeer livestock numbers in Yamal are too high," Nikolai Vlasov, deputy head of Russia's Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service, told the Siberian Times. "'The more dense the animal population is, the worse the disease transfer medium (and) the more often animals get sick."
Nomadic people on the Yamal peninsula, called Nenets, have raised reindeer herds for centuries. Every year, these indigenous people kill some reindeer for food and clothing - but Russia's plan would incentivize them to slaughter many more.