Iamal is the largest reindeer husbandry region in the world in both reindeer and herders. Here the market of reindeer production existed and the growth of personal reindeer numbers continued throughout the Soviet period and the period of the post-Soviet economic crisis. Economic liberalization has lifted restrictions on private reindeer ownership and the resulting growth of private herds has led to overgrazing. The paper discusses the cultural, economic, and ecological role of private reindeer herding as well as its legal aspects. The ecological role is given emphasis in the context of Hardin's "tragedy of the commons" concept. It is demonstrated that private/personal reindeer herding has always been the main driver of local reindeer herding and currently it is much more efficient than post-sovkhoz reindeer herding. However, as authority over the pasturelands still officially belongs to the ineffective and stagnant successors of Soviet sovkhozes and the political will to change this situation is absent, grazing resources represent common-pool resources and a situation closely resembling the tragedy of the commons emerges. It is argued that this situation necessitates state intervention, and measures to mitigate this situation, proposed by the reindeer herders themselves, are sketched. Finally, a list of principles to be adopted in order to ensure the further development of private reindeer herding and the continuation of its positive cultural and economic role are proposed.