Herders in Lapland decided to decrease high level of animals’ deaths in car accidents by spraying their reindeer with reflective paint that make them more visible for drivers in the dark.
“Reindeer graze free in nature and are quite often hit by cars,” Anne Ollila, head of the Reindeer Herders’ Association, told reporters. “We want to find solutions to avoid this.”
“The aim is to prevent traffic accidents. The spray is being tested on fur at the moment, but it may be even more effective on the antlers, because they are seen from every side,” explained Ollila.
According to Ollila, there are between 3,000 and 5,000 accidents involving reindeer every year, which are “much deadlier for the reindeer than for the drivers.”
The trial period of the special paint started last week, when the representatives of association sprayed the antlers of 20 reindeer in the Rovaniemi district, the capital of the Lapland region.
The wild animals were covered with two different types of reflective liquid: a more permanent one for the antlers and one that washes away for the fur.
According to sources, in case the tests give positive results, the association will spray large amount of animals later in the year.
Lapland, one of Europe’s most sparsely populated regions, every year attracts more and more tourists who come here on Christmas as it claims to be the “home of Santa Claus”.
Back in 2010 Norway consucted the same experiment, covering about 2,000 reindeer with reflective yellow collars or small antler tags.
“It really works,” Kristian Oevernes, the leader of the project at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, revealed to reporters at the time.
A test drive on a snowmobile demonstrated that marked wild animals appeared to be much more visible in the dark than unmarked ones.
According to statistics, several people are injured every year in car accidents involving reindeer. Mr Oevernes said: “This is the first time it (reindeer marking) has happened on this scale.”
There’s about 200,000 reinder in Norway. Mostly they belong to Sami indigenous people who raise them for meat, skins and antlers, according to the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry.
Last month a terrible accident occured in nothern Sweden where forty-eight reindeer were killed by a speeding train they tried in vain to outrun.
The regional transport official in charge of maintenance, Fredrik Rosendahl, explained the cause of the incident: “If you follow a reindeer in a car, for instance, it will tend to run in front of the car, it won’t go to one side. So just imagine what happens with a train that needs more than a kilometre to come to a stop.”
Back in 2012 high-speed railway in northern Sweden appeared to be the place of death for more than 200 reindeer as when the unfortunate animals have wandered onto the tracks.